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Masako Esaka 2

Curiosity For The Unknown

An unusual presentation

Despite all differences, the art of design and the art of ceramics come together in the creation of a unique work of art called bonsai. The works presented on these pages were created by a young artist called Masako Esaka. She's been working with ceramics for many years. This arrangement is called "Time passes" and consists of seven round pots. Three of them are single pots and four others are joined to a half circle. This is her personal interpretation of bonsai art, using special containers and stands for presentation. "I'm not sure if this composition lives up to the special character of these pots", Ms Esaka apologizes. "Looking at these pots one could think that they wre made for slender conifers in column shapes. But I'm convinced that they are better suited for trees with accentuated movements".


In this presentation, the jasmine in the rectangular pot on the left looks too dense and heavy.

The pots selected by Ms Esaka. The height of the containers is about 15 cm, the diameter of the largest one is 25 cm.

This dogwood harmonizes better with the whole ensemble.

The apricot on the right side has too thick branches and the twigs are too divaricate. It doesn't harmonize with the main tree.

The hole in the pot's bottom is quite small.

If the pot has only one hole, one needs to be inventive with attaching wires for anchoring the tree.

The tree is carefully fixed in the the pot ...

... but before that its angle needs to be checked.

A small bamboo stick is used to work the soil into the rootball. 


Preparing the composition

The material that Esaka selected for this innovative composition consists of a camellia in cascade shape, a camellia with slanted trunk, an apricot (Prunus mume), a dogwood (Cornus officinalis), a winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) and finally a bamboo and a dandelion (Taraxacum). Instead of using small tables, Esaka decided to go for a curved metal stand for the pots. After analyzing the material for its visual characteristics, Esaka decides to choose the camellia with the slanted trunk and the dogwood. The apricot's branches are too strong and the tree doesn't harmonize in size with the main tree. The slanted camelia however does, either because of its size, or due to the design of the branches. The winter jasmine is excluded, too - its fine and rich twigging disturbs the atmosphere of the composition which is underlined by the simple and clear lines of the dogwood.

The following photographs show the positioning of the elements. After having chosen the material to be used, the next step is to replant the main tree, a camellia cascade. This poses a problem: The pot is narrower at the bottom and there is only one drainage hole; and it doesn't stand safely. During the last Kokufu-ten there was a seminar on pots where it was emphasized that ceramic artists should also honour the practical aspects of pots for bonsai. The connection between plant and pot may be beautiful, but the practical aspects are important too.

After finishing repotting, the soil is mossed. This is an important refinement step which should give a feeling of naturalness. Moss of different varieties and colours is combined, producing an undulating surface with a natural look. The front chosen for the main tree, the camellia, is particularly intriguing. The trees with which it is combined underline its movement and compensate it at the same time. To make this dynamic play succeed, the correct position and height of the additional elements are important factors. The space between the main tree and the other elements is important as well. These are factors cannot be determined with mathematical precision, but only by the sensibility of the designer, which is developed by observing good compositions. As Esaka stresses, "Art doesn't know any strict rules".

One should collect moss of different varieties and colours.

The moss is watered to remove all soil from it.

Mossing the surface.

Creating a natural appearance.

After finishing the work, the pot is watered extensively.

Moss pads which are too thick are flattened.

The finished composition "Time passes". Bonsai designed by Taiju Esaka. Main tree: "Encounter in spring", height 85cm.

Arrangement by Masako Esaka.

This article was kindly provided by BONSAI ART.

Translation: Stefan Ulrich

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