A sunny spring morning at Calthorpes House, with the garden beginning to bloom, was the perfect time for our enthusiastic visitors to learn the art of flower arranging. When one thinks of flower arranging, the image that often comes to mind is Victorian ladies carefully packing dozens of flowers into an ornate vase in a cluttered drawing room. As Alex Evans, of HanaKuma Canberra explained however, flower arranging can be far more creative, philosophical and beautiful than many realise.
As a practitioner of the Sogetsu-Ryu school of Ikebana, Alex outlined the principles of Ikebana to his audience- simplicity, natural beauty, and harmonising with nature to produce beautiful, vibrant arrangements that accentuate the eccentricities of natural forms. These principles were born out of Buddhist and Shinto philosophy and practices, in which flowers were used as tokens to honour deities and ancestors. Over time, the art from developed in to schools with different rules and practices, that emphasise different elements in their flower arranging.
Growing up in Calthorpes House in the 1920’s and 30’s, Dawn Waterhouse was very familiar with the art of flower arranging. Her mother, Della, loved selecting and arranging flowers from the garden to display in the home- it was an important way of keeping house for Mrs Calthorpe. In later years, Dawn carried on this tradition, branching out (no pun intended) in to Ikebana, encouraged by Janet Waterhouse- Dawn’s mother-in-law and founding President of the Sydney Chapter of Ikebana International. Dawn went on to provide arrangements for events at Parliament House, and pictures of Janet’s arrangements can still be seen in the house.
With this history in mind, and with Alex’s demonstration complete, our visitors had a go at their own arrangements- using their new knowledge to select flowers, leaves and stems, and arranging them just so. The results were gorgeous- and our guests went home with their lovely arrangements, and a new appreciation for the Japanese art form, Ikebana.