I had arrived at the venue on the Friday lunchtime while everyone was in the throes of setting up their sales tables, displays and getting their trees photographed.
As I walked in Peter Warren was there prepping some trees ready to be photographed and then displaying them for the owners. He and Peter Snart from Willowbog have provided this deliver and set up service for people who could not attend the event for whatever reason but who want to have their tree displayed. One guy in particular, Marcus Watts was completely cut off from the rest of the world down in Cornwall and his tree was only present at the show due to the two Peters. This is to be commended and if you are ever in a similar situation I would recommend that you try their service. This is something I started providing at the Gingko Awards # 2 and carried on until it's demise and then continued providing for the Noelanders Trophy. So I know it is a beneficial service to the bonsai community. Well done the Peters!
I spent an entertaining evening on Friday in a little pub eating steak and pepper sauce followed by apple tart and slagroom (warm cream) with John Trott and his buddy whose name I have forgotten, (sorry). Peter Ford my student, Martin Shepherd from South Wales who I have known for years but rarely get to see and the enigma that is Mo Fagan. We had a great evening even though I could not get Mo to do either his Jethro impression or his Stephen Hawkins impression. But then Mo is entertaining just being Mo! Unfortunately I left the party early as I had not been to bed since Wednesday and now I am an old codger I need my bed. So I left the others having the odd pint or three and Peter and I went back to the hotel at around 10.30 pm. for what I thought was going to be an early night. However Peter insisted I do my Beyonce "All the single ladies" Chinese style impression until way after 12 midnight. No respect these kids!
I have already mentioned the British contingent of potters at the Noelanders Trophy.
The quality of their work spoke volumes and even though there were many potters at the event, the Brits shone brightly. What never ceases to amaze me about potters, and here I mean all potters not just the Brits, is that the medium of ceramics allows them to be so creative and expressive and that you can see quite unmistakeably each potters individualistic style. Even more so I think than in bonsai. This I feel is what makes clay such a wonderful medium for art. Not only is it very tactile but it allows for great freedom to be creative, that is if you have the talent.
Usually I go mad at the Noelanders and regularly spend 500-1,000 on pots. But this year I was more reserved and only bought 4 pots. They were all by Andy 'Stone Monkey' Pearson, and I have to admit that I had to walk away from his stand for fear of over spending, despite Les Storey (obviously on commission) egging me on to buy more. But I am very pleased with the 4 pots I bought. Why did I buy them? Because I like them and because they say 'Stone Monkey' when you see them. His stamp is on them both spiritually and physically, (on the bottom see image below).
If you don't know of Andy or you are not familiar with his work check out his website here;
Here are three of his pots that I bought.
This cascade or semi cascade pot below measures 11 cms high X 18 cms diameter at the top X 12 cms diameter at the bottom.
This was the largest pot that I bought and I had reserved this pot after seeing it on Andy's FACEBOOK page. It measures 10.5 cms high X 28.5 cms diameter.
And this one, which could be for a shohin tree or accent.
And here is Andy's mark, 'Stone Monkey' !
On Saturday even though it was cold outside, everyone seemed to have a smile on their face inside the event. Unless of course they had been caught out by rogue traders! But seriously, it was like a beehive inside the venue and many people complained that it was too cramped to be enjoyable. But that's what happens when the event is a success. People do not stop to think of the logistics of trying to find a venue that gives good light, is accessible, has good parking, has enough space for an exhibition, traders and demonstrators and is affordable.
This year there were not so many 'sooty trees' present. By that I don't mean sooty aphid but sooty deadwood! I have spent a fortune and wasted a lot of time trying to find these 'sooty trees' in nature, both in the Alps and Pyrenees and also in the Rockies. I have asked my daughter to photograph any that she sees in the Himalayas while she is in Nepal. They must be out there somewhere otherwise why would people create these sooty pines and junipers?
However there were some 'painted' trees this year and some with deadwood stuck on. Reasons on a postcard please. But the most blatant use of paint I have seen was at a Gingko Awards one year where the whole live vein on the front of the tree was painted on. The actual live vein feeding the tree was at the back out of sight. But that's another story.
It was good to see Henk Fresen again this year with his amazing bronze sculptures. Henks work is now very much sought after in Japan which is a great honour for him. I would urge anyone interested in bronze sculptures to look at his site. www.henk.fresen.nl
Because of the impending weather and also the weather conditions in the UK I kept in touch with home for updates on the weather.
I left the Noelanders prematurely on the Saturday just as I had left the UK prematurely on Thursday night to beat the snow. My aim Thursday was to keep ahead of the snow as it came in and let it chase me down to Dover. On Saturday I did not want to get caught out being stuck unable to get home by the heavy snow that was forecast for the Sunday for Belgium and France. Plus the big extra long wheel base van I had hired was horrendous in the snow, it just did not have traction at all even though I was carrying a lot of weight. I would have felt more confident in my own car.
As it was I missed the results of who won what in the exhibition and only found out on FACEBOOK on my return home. A big congratulations to Mark and Ritta Cooper who got both first prize and second prize in the SHOHIN category. It was an easy choice to make as their compositions were excellent.
It was interesting that when I got home and downloaded the 6 images from my iPhone I had the Noelanders winner and best deciduous tree among them! Maybe I am getting the hang of this bonsai game.
After battling the elements to get home I had the problem of emptying the trees off the van in the first instance and then getting the van back to Halesowen to the hire place in the second instance. This is when you know who your true friends are. Peter Ford was at my place at 9.00 am on Sunday morning to give me a hand to unload the van. Thanks #2!
Then I left home Monday morning at 7.00am to get to the hire centre to drop the van back. Unfortunately I could not raise any taxi service to get home from Halesowen. So thinking on my feet I called Rod White to see if he could give me the phone number of a taxi company in Halesowen where he lived as nothing was running from Kidderminster. He recommended 'Rods Prompt Taxi Rank' and came out to pick me up and take me home. How about that. If you look in the dictionary under the word "helpful" it say's 'See Rod White'.
So a big thank you to Peter and Rod for getting the Tollster out of the S..t.
After Rod dropped me off home I breathed a half sigh of relief. It had been a mixed weekend with highs and lows, but at least now I could relax. I was home and job done. Or was it.
My Mother had let 'Charlie' her cockatiel out for some exercise while she cleaned out his cage and he had crash landed and broke both of his legs poor thing. Thinking on my feet I grabbed a box of matches and then used two matches on each side of each of his little legs to splint them. Wrapping the matches with selotape to keep them in position.
When he walked for the first time you should have seen his little face light up..........then his wings then his tail...........