Three women from India began dreaming about a huge bonsai event with more than 1000 bonsai on display. This dream started more than 8 years ago. February 22-26 2018 it was finally realized. After much planning and having selected bonsai artists brought over to India in the time up to the event, their plan could be executed with 17 international bonsai experts on stage during the four-day venue in Pune.
Morten Albek: ‘The first time I met Prajakta Cale, Sucheta Avadhani and Kamini Johari was two years ago. I worked on their trees for five days in India, and I could feel their great passion for bringing bonsai up on an International level seeking more recognition. Indian bonsai isn’t very well known outside India. One of the goals with this event is to bring awareness of bonsai from the country to the outside world’.
The Indians were probably the first people to grow plants in pots. For easier transportation especially, medical plants were planted in pots. The Chinese invented the artful creations of trees in pots, later refined by the Japanese as the bonsai art we know today. Now the circle closes when India tries to bring bonsai in India on the map.
Among the many agendas is a wish to bring bonsai production out to the small nursery-men. The Bonsai Namaste team has so far field grown their own material in huge numbers, to be able to support free material to the workshops at the event, and developing bonsai of exhibition quality. A step is taken in this direction, so growers can develop pre-bonsai and sell these as a small extra production aside their normal growing of flowers and plants.
“The Indians were probably the first people to grow plants in pots”
A massive 125.000 people attended the exhibition, which had free admittance according to the official bulletin. The bonsai demonstrations were viewed by a paying audience counting 400 people. These also could take part in a lottery winning a spot at one of the sixteen workshops held at a daily basis between demonstrations on stage. These workshops were run by the international artists with 16 students in each room for two hours.
The knowledge of the students is still at beginners stages for many, but some also had been growing bonsai for more than twenty or thirty years. One of my workshops I had to extend for a full extra to manage all questions, and being able to just do a little work in the very narrow time limit with so many people attending at once.
Tran Thang (Vietnam) visually expresses the windswept style at his demo
Demonstrations were divided in a morning and an afternoon session with three artists on stage at the time. It was a great group of bonsai artists having a lot of fun together and being entertaining for the audience. Much valuable knowledge handed over to the enthusiastic audience, and many questions were answered during the days.
The invited bonsai artists:
Bjorn Bjorholm (US) – Morten Albek (Denmark) – Tony Tickle (UK) – Tony Bebb (Australia) -Koji Hiramatsu (Japan) -Kunio Kobayashi (Japan) -Mauro Stemberger (Italy) -Marc Noelanders (Belgium) -Sergio Luciani (Argentina) – Mike Siow (Malaysia) -Nacho Marin (Venezuela) -Peter Warren (UK) -Pedro J. Morales (Puerto Rico) -Rudy Najoan (Indonesia) -Suthin Sukosolvisit (US) -Tran Thang (Vietnam). And assistants.
It is the future plan to make this an annual event.
Text and photography: Morten Albek