The 2nd Mini-bonsai exhibition September 2014 in Changzhou Qinxin Garden was an experience and a surprise to me. I had not expected something like this when I was invited to China to be part of this event.
At the exhibition I counted about 130 Mini-bonsai displays and many of high quality. Shohin- or Mini-bonsai, are growing rapidly in popularity in Japan, and in the west too. But clearly also in China, who can now make an event like this, showing the best of Mini-bonsai although still having a very short history of this type of bonsai. Not at least set up against a more than 1300 year history of bonsai in China.
Mini-bonsai has a different perspective than normal larger bonsai. Where large bonsai are displayed by themselves to show the beauty, strength and elegance of the tree, Mini-bonsai are focused on showing the beauty of the season too. This is done by displaying two or several trees together in a harmonious display, where flowering trees are important in summer, fruit bearing trees in autumn, and as deciduous trees do in winter, bringing out the feeling of the season.
Shohin and Mini-bonsai are poetic displays, bringing joy to the viewer. So when I have put all the technical stuff aside, not looking on trees pointing in the right or wrong direction i.e., and just look at the displays, joy is the word that came in to my mind first. The playfulness and purity of the shown displays is still what is filling me with happiness after watching the exhibition. Something I also noticed in the faces of the many guests attending the event.
There were clear signs of the traditional Chinese Penjing style in many displays, while others had inspiration from Japanese bonsai culture or a mixture. All put together in a professional set up with each display area divided and framed with beautiful wood carved frames. The overall impact as a visitor must be joy, seeing so many displays in one place in a so well done arrangement in the impressive Changzhou Qinxin Garden.
The opening ceremony and the way we as visitors have been received were overwhelming. The friendliness and hospitality will be remembered by us all I am sure. This kindness is somehow reflected in the way Mini-bonsai is displayed. There are many items in each display, using figures and arranging the display freely. The style is reflecting the cultural background, as it is in Japan, and as it is in my country in Europe where I have my background. The world of bonsai and Mini-bonsai will undoubtedly have its influence on how we approach and display.
We will in future not only have our own perception and national way of doing the art, but also we will be adapting what we see in a global world, exchanging not only knowledge but also aesthetical views and ideas. And not at least, and of great importance, sharing friendship in the name of bonsai.
The world of Mini-bonsai is playful and it is fun. It is also accessible to many people who will be able to find this kind of bonsai easier to access and finding it easier to achieve material less expensive than larger bonsai. Exhibitions like this are opening the eyes for more people to find the beauty and appreciate it.
Mini-bonsai in China will certainly grow rapidly in the time to come as it is all over the world. Also in Europe, where the first national Mini bonsai association British Shohin Bonsai was formed in 2005 under the name British Shohin Bonsai Association. Followed by the Shohin Bonsai Danmark organisation in Denmark, which I established this fall with Johnny Eslykke and Torben Pedersen. I look forward to see how Mini-bonsai will grow and develop the next years, in China, Japan, Korea, Denmark, Europe and the rest of the world.
View all 163 photos from the mini-bonsai exhibition at www.shohin-europe.com