Bonsai should be no different, the works of Naka, Banting, or Larz Anderson should never be changed by one person who thinks the tree could be better, they should never be made into someone else's trees. So what if they could be made better, the point is the shouldn't be changed, they shouldn't be "made better" they should be preserved.
I agree that trees that are purchased to be redesigned or treated as stock should not carry on the growers name as there is no doubt a completed redesign in store. However trees that are purchased to be shown certainly should give credit to the person who created it. If I purchased a Bonsai from Boon, trimmed a few shoots off, added some moss, and polished the pot and then showed it under my name, that borders on the unethical. I can show it, but credit for styling should be given to Boon, it is his art, after all.
This discussion is interesting and stimulating to say the least. In order to fully comprehend the intention of the author we have delved into the depths of the artistic world, and at times it seems we have failed to comprehend the metaphors used. I believe the article can be summed up on ?integrity? and as we know, levels vary with each and every individual.
In discussing, we have gone to the depth of restoration and preservation. Whilst these two points are valid arguments to the discussion, they have led us off track as to the intent of the original question IMO: acquiring a bonsai, designed by someone else, giving it a manicure and claiming said tree as ones own.
As previously mentioned, each artist possesses his/her individual brush strokes and these are not dissimilar to fingerprints, e.g. Walter?s submission in the K of B contest. Although still very much in the early stages of styling, one can see his fingerprints all over this tree. Is this a bad thing? I don?t believe so and, as Walter and I have discussed why would it not be a ?Walter tree? and very much so. As he explained this tree was acquired as pre bonsai stock. Some may disagree with this statement, but who are we to judge without seeing the tree in person. The owner acquired what he thought was a bonsai, only to find out to his dismay that the tree was flawed. Therefore, in the careful hands of a talented artist the true beauty of the tree can be revealed, or as close to humanly possible with the stock at hand. Once the restoration done, (I used the word restoration vice transformation, as it is too early to qualify the work done) will the owner pay Caesar his due? If it were my tree I wouldn?t have any reservations charting its pedigree.
I guess the passion we render in this discussion surrounds the mythical aura of practising bonsai vice owning them. Why would anyone want to own world-class trees just to display them? I guess it becomes just another piece of art like many others, whilst the enthusiast knows the difference, the journey into its creation, different strokes for different folks.
I like Al's answer, he brings up a lot of hard decisions that have to be made when working with legacy trees. There are times when, even if you want to keep the tree exactly as it was, you cannot. That's because some branches thicken out of proportion in time, and you have to replace them with others. In this case, you will try to preserve "the spirit" of the work, but you will have to decide on your own what to replace it with
Talented artist, however, have an eye of recognizing the style of the original creator, and so they can adapt the subsequent work on the tree to this original style, in order to preserve the original image. Just an example: if the tree was created, using the clip-and-grow method, with zig-zag branches and stubs at the end of branches left on intentionally, then the resturator should use the same clip-and-grow method and create similar stubs when growing new branches.
If, however, the branches have wavy, lazy curves, the subsequent work should be done accordingly. Observing all the little details, and the overall structure of the tree, one can keep building or maintaining it in the same spirit.
These accurate observations enforce artistic integrity when we talk restoration. As previously mentioned wrt individual brush strokes, museums will quest for handedness when restoring great works of art, as the brush stroke of a right or left handed painter is inherently different. The same applies to wiring whether wired conventionally or via the ?lingnan? method, each produce different results and are not dissimilar to the aforementioned ?handed? observation.
It is true that a bonsai is a dynamic piece of art that continually evolves, but in the hands of a learnt and truly talented artist, the tree can be ?freeze framed? for perpetuity. The latter statement is bold and albeit the tree will undoubtedly change, the spirit will be preserved, not unlike ?Goshin?.
Therefore, when does a tree cease to be one and become the other? IMHO, when all artistic impressions are no longer discernable from the originating artist.