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Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  JUDGING RESULTS

I?d like to thank Will Heath and the AoB staff for selecting me to judge the First AoB Bonsai Display Contest. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on a topic which interests me and that I have been studying for over 40 years. I?d like to thank everyone who entered this display contest.
I enjoyed looking at all the beautuiful bonsi and accessories from around the world. It took me considerable time to study and select the top three winners from the 40 entries. It was difficult to make the final three decisions.
When judging this contest I made my decisions using basic design principles combined with my personal taste. I tried not to let the design and species of bonsai influence me too much. But I did look more closely to finer quality bonsai. Photography was also a major determining factor for judging also.
I would like to make the judging of this display contest educational so I will make constructive comments on the top three winners. Also, some of the other entries are very interesting and brief comments will be made when I can explain some good points as well as how some of the displays could be refined.
It is important to note that bonsai display tables are difficult and often expensive to find outside of Asia. I realize many of the display tables were hand made by some of the artists and they are proud of their craftsmanship. However, there are basic design principles which I would like to discuss with the appropriate entries concerning the display tables.
One of the requirements for this contest was to combine at least two objects for the displays. Some selected scrolls, most chose accessory plantings. I also realize it is difficult to find appropriate scrolls for displaying with bonsai.
Again, I?d like thank and congratulate everyone who entered this contest and took valuable time to share their bonsai display with members of this AoB forum. Considerable time was necessary to design, assemble and photograph each display.
William N. Valavanis

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:38 pm ]
Post subject:  FIRST PRIZE WINNER!

First place winner:
Mario Komstra (Poland/Japan)
I first saw this fine bonsai display in Japan at the 80th Japan National Bonsai Exhibition (Nippon Bonsai Kokufu-ten) in February. It is quite an accomplishment for a non-Japanese to have a bonsai accepted for such an important display!
The collected Japanese red pine is matched beautifully with the display table. It is displayed with a collected Korean hornbeam and a small grass planting. The photography is excellent.
Although I think this is the finest of the 40 bonsai displays entered, I feel it could be refined a bit. The display table for the Korean hornbeam is rectangular and is the same shape as the main display table for the Japanese red pine. It is also a bit small and too delicate for the heavy, powerful Korean hornbeam. At first glance I thought why display two bonsai, but it is important to realize that this display was assembled for the Japan National Bonsai Exhibition and each entry is allocated approximately five feet. One large size bonsai would easily fill this area with a small accessory. However, this Japanese red pine is a small size bonsai and it would seem lost in such a large area. Including a large accessory planting would not look balanced, so another smaller bonsai was used. The Korean hornbeam was an excellent choice, because it is deciduous and created a striking contrast with the bright green evergreen needles. Also both bonsai are of different style. The containers, although both are oval, are of different colors.
The small fern accessory plant does not seem necessary in this display, and I personally do not like it in the rear area of the display. Perhaps the artist thought it was necessary to fill the allotted area.
Congratulations Mario!

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:41 pm ]

Second prize winner:
John Pitt (England)
Basically I like this display of the Prunus spinosa. It presents a very quiet feeling to me with the scroll painting of a distant mountain combined with the large bonsai.
The theme of the scroll is appropriate for this bonsai, although a smaller or more narrow scroll would fit better with the size of this display. If a larger area were used, perhaps this wide scroll would be in better balance.
The accessory planting was an excellent choice. The color of the bonsai container and the accessory are different as are their shapes. I like the way the blue glaze blends with the scroll background. The size of the planting is also in good balance with the bonsai. I would prefer to have it displayed in the foreground rather than in the background.
The display table for the bonsai is of the right shape and size, however, it is too light to balance the heavy crown of the bonsai.
This is an excellent display, and as stated in my introduction, I did not let my personal taste for bonsai design enter too much. Although the bonsai is well developed, I find the design confusing. The bottom section of the trunk movement is from right to left, while the upper trunk movement and branches are from left to right. The bonsai does not look balanced with the container. Perhaps a different shaped container would improve the bonsai.
Congratulations John!

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:43 pm ]
Post subject:  THIRD PRIZE WINNER!

Third place winner:
Mike Page (United States)
This is a great display featuring several unusual elements. The cascade style pine is planted in a most unusual tall container. Tall cascade containers like this are extremely difficult to display properly, and I think Mike has done a splendid job selecting an appropriate table. Yes, the table is quite heavy and dark, but it is unusual, like the container and well matched.
The accessory was also carefully selected. I like the different shapes of the bonsai and accessory containers as well as the colors. The grass provides a fresh contrast with the pine bonsai. The wooden slab under the glazed container is a perfect match.
The scroll is very interesting. The money looking at a bird is whimsical and again, unusual fitting in with the theme of this display.
Again, I personally do not like the design of this pine bonsai, but I realize everyone appreciates different bonsai designs.
Congratulations Mike!

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  FOURTH PRIZE?

I was asked to select the top three winners for this AoB Display contest. However, if I had to select a ?Fourth Winner? it would be this Juniper bonsai display by Thomas Mozden.
The main reason this bonsai was not selected for one of the top three winners is because of the photography. The photograph is too dark and I could not clearly see the display tables.
The bonsai is beautiful and matches the container in fine taste. The display table is also in good harmony with the container and bonsai, an excellent match!
The near mountain suiseki is a good size to be in contrast and to compliment the juniper bonsai. However it is of the same identical color and texture of the bonsai display table, both brown.
The wooden slab under the suiseki is very similar to the bonsai display table. I prefer using different tables to create interest.
If the artist were to take another photograph of this display and change the suiseki and wooden display table it would really be a winner.
But I still like this display,
Congratulations Tom!

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:47 pm ]

Here are two great bonsai displayed together.
The tables are well matched to the bonsai.
However both of these bonsai are very similar in appearance. Both bonsai are upright and seem to compete for attention. The display is not interesting to look at.
Both the Florida elm and the Willowleaf fig have similar textures. If one was bare and the other in leaf it would be more interesting.
An idea: If the small Willowleaf fig were removed and the accessory planting moved to the right this display would be a winner!

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  INTERESTING DISPLAY[img]

This is an interesting display which I don not understand. The bonsai movement is from left to right and it is displayed on the right side of the exhibit. It is leading my eye out of the display.
The shell and sand are interesting, but I believe Salvataore Liporace first created this design?

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:51 pm ]
Post subject:  GOOD TABLE MATCH

The display table selected for this bonsai is a good match for the container as well as the tree. The unusual accessory planting container by Michael Hagedorn is a bit too fancy for this display and attracts my attention immediately. In fact, I find this container competing with the lovely scroll.

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:54 pm ]

Displaying shohin bonsai is a very difficult task. This basic direction of this display is good. The top bonsai on the shelved display table leads my eye to the center of the exhibit. Likewise the bonsai on the left also leads my eye to the center of the exhibit.
However there are too many grass plantings in this display also most of them are too large to be in scale with the entire display. Three of the grass plantings on the shelved display table are larger than the cascade bonsai.

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:55 pm ]
Post subject:  TABLE TOO SMALL[img]

I like this display very much. The light green leaves of the Japanese maple present a fresh early summer display. The moon scroll is beautiful and is a good combination.
This display would have been among the top three winners but the table is too small for the bonsai.
It appears that this entry is also from the second prize winner, John Pitt. Perhaps he should have switched stands. This one appears better for the Prunus spinosa and that stand would be better for this Japanse maple.

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:58 pm ]

Great bonsai!
Which is the accessory, the trophy or plant?

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:59 pm ]
Post subject:  UNSTABLE TABLE

Nice juniper bonsai and accessory. However, the table appears unstable to my eye. The accessory does not appear to have a table. The background is wrinkled and not even. This is distracting from enjoying a nice display.

Author:  William N. Valavanis [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  LARGE ACCESSORY

The accessory planting for this juniper bonsai display is quite large and competes for attention with the main tree. Also a less formal table is more appropriate for an accessory planting.

Author:  Thomas J. Mozden [ Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Thanks Bill

Let me be one of the first to say thanks for being a part of this contest, and for taking the time to lend your many years of bonsai expertise be the judge here this first year. I hope it was just as much fun for you as I'm sure it was for all of us who entered. Congrats to the top three, and for those of us who didn't make it there, all I can say is "wait'll next year".

Author:  Mike Page [ Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thomas was the first to thank Bill for being a very important part of this contest, and I'll be the second to thank him.
Bill your comments were cogent and instructive, and I enjoyed reading them all.
I've had an interest in display for many years. Of all the bonsai disciplines I've tried to learn, good display may be the most difficult, and I'm very gratified to have gained a place in this contest.
Thanks again Bill, and thanks to the AoB staff for making the contest possible.

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