Miyabi-ten in Gorgo al Monticano, Italy

‘Tis kind of an odd feeling, going on a bonsai show without a tree, but for Nicola’s demonstration we figured… why not? You may be wondering who “we” refers to. We are Nicola’s students: Franco, Luca and I. We followed our master to help him out with a big pinus mugo at the second edition of the Myabi bonsai ten, an exhibition by a group of enthusiast in a very spectacular and suggestive location at the Villa Foscarini Cornaro in Gorgo al Monticano, Italy.

The location, as I mentioned, was very suggestive, held in the oldest renewed barn in Europe and it accommodated more than 100 plants, most of which were from formal students of the Scuola d’arte bonsai and this year also comprised a very large collection of suiseki.
The vendors and conference attendees were held in another area of the Villa both of which were divided from an Italian garden with a spectacular oak tree.

Although I haven’t been at many shows I believe that the quality of the exhibition was very high, the plant shows were well prepared and most of them had a very old history behind them, others were young yet pleasant to look at. I am not a Suiseki expert nor do I understand this world of contemplating stones, but as Nicola explained to us, he’s not exactly an expert either. All in all the quality was high for this kind of event.

But we were there to help our master not only to look around and shop, I will come back to that later. The Mugo was collected several years back from a young enthusiast from Modena, but he exchanged it with Nicola some years ago, it was repotted 2 years ago and now was ready for the first styling.
We started by bending two main branches in order to compact the foliage and then wired the fine twigs. Everybody was astonished by the result; this was a confirmation of our good work under the leadership of our sensei.

In this kind of event it is nice for the audience to observe more than one artist not only because of the different approach that each of them has but also to see different trees develop throughout the day. The main guest was Masashi Hirao, the last student of Saburo Kato before his death, his “Deshi”, his spiritual successor and a young bonsai master that promotes bonsai in a very artistic and different way around the world. Masashi san created a big ishizuki landscape. Other guests were Milan Karpisek, another young bonsaist from the Czech Republic, he worked on a pinus silvestris in bunjin style.  Kurt Jaritz from Austria worked on a black austian pine, Francesco Gallanzi and Vittorio Fiori from Italy worked on a juniper.

Regardless the fact that the viewers were delighted by the guests, that the location was fantastic, that the vendors were more than accommodating, the most important thing was that we had fun! For Franco it was the very first time in front of an audience and although he was very nervous he did a really good job, Luca and I had aleready assisted Nicola on other occasions. I understand that other artists prefer to work alone and of course it’s always best to work alone, but on the other hand, it’s not easy to finish a huge tree in less than 6 hours, so I it made sense when Nicola asked us to give him a helping hand. Well… it was a lesson as well, and as good students we obeyed our master.
After the demonstration we were all exhausted but really happy to have accomplished brilliantly the first styling of the mugo pine.

Throughout the weekend other conferences took place: a quick guide of the world of suiseki, a tour of the show, a workshop on feng shui and Japanese cuisine, a workshop on Japanese garden styling, an introduction to zen practice and even an event in order to bring children near nature and plants.

The next day we had the opportunity to visit the vendors. I love to shop at bonsai shows, don’t you? I have to say the market in Italy is way better than the one in Switzerland! Bonsai, pre-bonsai, small plants, pots and tools, everything at a reasonable price and what a variety! Sorry folks, but that’s a fact!! I purchased a juniperus chinensis kishu in an exquisite bunjin style almost finished, a pinus sylvestris I will style at the upcoming Kitora Bonsai School course, some small company plants. I really shopped for what I needed and since the exhibition was not far away from Barbazza bonsai, we made a stop visit and shopped some more. Nicola always told me to buy a masterpiece, a tree that is almost finished and can be showed in a couple of years, with the right pot and the right table. Well, although I struggled to find the “perfect” tree I did find an acer palmatum that suited my budget and pleased my taste as well as Nicola’s discerning judgment. But I was not the only shopper in our group! Franco just exceeded all expectations! He loves yamadori so he could not resist a big pinus silvestris, a juniperus collected from the field in Japan in raw material stage, lots of company plants, some pots, an ishizuki stone, some tools,… Well, on the ride back the car was packed!

So, the exhibition was a huge success, we did some serious shopping, the demonstration was a hit, the location exquisite, all in all a really brilliant mix.
I am looking forward to the next exhibition hoping to be able to bring some of my plants that by the way are achieving the nice ripeness for a show, or maybe it’s just me that is ready for a show!

…love, Melanie!

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