Last week I showed this same footpath. Now it is littered with even more flowers and leaves ripped from the trees.

Finally I have the evidence that the sulphur- crested cockatoos are littering the paths. When I looked closely at this photo I was interested to see that the cockatoo has a small branch with a cluster of flowers in its left claw. In his mouth is one flower from which it is taking nectar.

There were about half a dozen of them inside the canopy of this tree in our garden.

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Last Monday I was the substitute speaker at the Ikebana International meeting in Melbourne, as our invited guest was unavailable. The subject was to be origami, however that is certainly not my area of expertise. I therefore spoke about one of the Sogetsu School curriculum exercises, which is to make an arrangement incorporating 'unconventional' (manmade) materials. An earlier version of the curriculum had a separate and specific exercise to use paper in an arrangement.

Over the years I have experimented with various ways in which to use paper and there are a few points worth mentioning. The first is to consider the unique properties of paper and to take advantage of these. The second is to decide what is the subject/idea of the ikebana. That means, either the botanical materials or the manmade materials should be dominant and the other is in a supporting role. The third point is that all the materials should be integrated in the arrangement. So that if either were to be removed the arrangement would be incomplete.

I made this arrangement in class some years ago. Clearly the paper is the dominant material. I particularly like using newspaper, which is readily available, and changing it to reveal characteristics not normally noticed. This paper has been pleated diagonally and then folded in the middle, creating two 'fans', one on each side of the middle.

A couple of weeks after that class I created this work for the 50th anniversary exhibition of Ikebana International in Melbourne. As you can see I have also used coloured wrapping paper. The botanical material is the dried leaves of Dracaena Draco, which are bright orange where they attach to the plant.

This arrangement also incorporates a second manmade material, plastic mesh which keeps leaves from collecting in the roof gutters. It is contrasted with a strelitzia flowerhead. The newspaper has been rolled on the diagonal into straws. The straws are quite strong and develop spiral stripes from the colours on the page. In both of the examples above the 'subject' is the manmade material.

My final example is the arrangement I setup at last week's meeting. Again I have used newspaper straws, that I had demonstrated how to make. In this case the subject is the botanical materials, dried agapanthus heads and two dietes leaves, with the paper making a contrasting element. The ceramic cylinder is by Graeme Wilkie.

There are more photos from the meeting on the Ikebana International Melbourne blog.

Greetings from Christopher
13th May 2017

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