Without undersinging our healthy attachments to friends and fam, there’s a case to be made, right now, for individuality. Go out on a limb, don’t wait for applause, be your own mentor and strive for the particular beauty of the lone stem. Go to the loo in the nightclub on your own, so to speak. The silent solitude of deliberate, focused creativity offers blissed-out respite from energy-sapping social engagement or lethargic self-analysis.
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The most influential modern practitioners of the Japanese art of flower arranging, first codified in the 15th century, include avant-gardists such as Sofu Teshigahara, who assimilated European ideas and Modernist art theory, demonstrating how an artist can flex, progress and follow a personal path while holding fast to principles. He believed that, like a virtuoso musician or, indeed, a damn good cook, once you have practised and practised, memorised the forms and mastered techniques, you are free to make creative leaps, using any materials, not only flowers…
bag MARGE SHERWOOD
While we distance ourselves from one another physically, this is a time to learn, read, practise, focus, and console ourselves with beauty. (Baking cinnamon buns does count, yes.) The three elements of Japanese flower arranging traditionally represent heaven, human and earth, and the connection we are endeavouring to keep with the natural world. Styling a table setting, getting dressed for this particular day on Earth, putting a blue hyacinth next to a bowl of oranges… None of this will last (though I do believe the three-dimensional still-lifes in Dennis Severs’ House would survive an apocalypse) but not even the relentless march of time can take away your intent, your clarity of expression or your moment of completeness.
This art of arranging natural elements is an intricately developed example of poised self-expression. It is a genre of mind training, taught in Japanese schools, and historically practised by samurai warriors and stiff generals. If there’s a shelf or table in your apartment where you’ve kept a keyring, a pleasing gourd and a pilea peperomioides in the same positions for more than six weeks, you’re doing it! You, only you, out there in the world, making it more beautiful.
photography SHINI PARK
art direction & collages CAMILO GONZALEZ
production CUBE COLLECTIVE
project management ANNA HOLMFELD
writer SOPHIE DENING
layout CAMILO GONZALEZ
retouch ALE JIMENEZ