A.O.B Awards Judging Comment
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Author:  Andy Jones [ Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:20 pm ]
Post subject:  A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

RE. Mr Invernizzis comments about my trees not being Bonsai.
I can appreciate that he is at the pinnacle of the Bonsai "Scene" and deserves his reputation, I would however like to make one comment... If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck then it probably is a duck. Bonsai is in my very, very humble opinion turning into the equivilent of Englands Crufts Dog Show, kick out the Jack Russells and bring on the Weird, Furless, Pug Nosed stuff. I'm sorry my humble attempts aren't up to his standards but I think his comments are a little harsh. I am not a bitter loser but to be put down in such a manner is both degrading and belittling, if they are'nt Bonsai why were they accepted for the contest? I won't be taking part in any further contests and will not bother to visit A.O.B. in the future as rather than being helped with constructive critism I now feel thorougly inferior.

Author:  Will Heath [ Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment


The discussion on this years contest has amazed me.

First we heard some comments on the fact that three different judges, from three different countries and cultures gave sometimes widely differing scores on the same entries. This amazed me because I personally would have been more concerned if the scores did not differ.

Just as you and I would judge a tree differently, based on our own mindsets, experience, and expectations, our judges based did the same. To expect artists with the great experience our judges have to see each entry the same, is expecting too much. The only instance where this would happen would be on bonsai so great that they have a universal appeal and these trees usually win the awards.

Most readers would agree with these selections, although in some cases, such as the recent national Exhibit, it seems the judges are the only ones in agreement. Never-the-less, it was their responsibility to make such decisions and we must live with them.

As to your comment here, you certainly must realize that not everyone will like your bonsai, be they inexperienced or world-class masters such as Marco. He graciously agreed to lend his vast experience to AoB and judge over 200 entries in the Awards, in exchange, we accept his decisions regardless as to if we agree or not.

We use only the most experienced and respected artists in the world to judge our contest here at AoB, we do not have popular voting, and our contests are blind. All to prevent bias and other unethical practices common in some other on-line contests. There is no doubt that AoB (and KoB) has created and presented the best on-line bonsai contests on the web.

So you had a judge tell you your entry was not a bonsai, so what?

Is he right? In his professional opinion, he is, and we must thank him for giving his opinion, regardless of if we agree or not, after all, we asked him to do so. We all knew the judges before we entered and we all knew our entries would be commented on.

Just to let you know, Marco also said two of my companion planting entries were not Kusamono. I could argue the fact, I could say that he is right and it is a good thing that they were in a companion planting category instead of a Kusamono category, but what would the point be? Would it change his mind? Would it change my scores? Would complaining accomplish anything?

No. Instead, I'd like to thank Marco for his opinion and for taking the time to jusdge this contest, your effort is appreciated.

I'll be back next year, maybe with the same companion plantings, maybe not, but I'll be back. If I quite every time someone had something negative to say, I'd had quit thousands of times. Imagine if Mike Page quit in the past when his efforts were often criticized, he never would have won an award at the First National Exhibit and turned the bonsai community upside down by doing so. ;)


Author:  Andy Jones [ Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

Yeah, Damien Hurst, Banksie, Tracey Eminwhatever are todays artistis...Topical , Shock value, typical in todays world .... I could take you to an English Bonsai garden dedicated to English trees where you might spend £20-£50 on a tree but in 20 years with hard work you would have something special, that is the difference, Marco can spend thousands on buying and refining a tree that is rmore or less ready to finish, though 90 % out of the reach of most of us, I can't, I have to start from scratch from the £20 pound mark. Does that give him the right to disparage me in such a way?

Author:  Will Heath [ Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

What does creating art from a 50 dollar piece of stock, have in common with creating art from a 1,000 dollar piece of stock have in common?

They both will take talent to do so. There are many people who can create a piece of junk from either piece, and a few who could create a great bonsai from either as well. It's not the price, its the material, and the material is useless without the knowledge and the talent to do something with it.

Trust me, I can ruin a 1,000 dollar piece of stock just as quickly as I can a 5 dollar piece. ;)

Attila made some good points in another thread, see viewtopic.php?f=66&t=2623 toward the bottom of the page.


Author:  Devinda Peries [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

Hi All

I agree that comments need not have been as harsh as to call something "not a bonsai" without any jsutification to support such a statement.

I can see where Andy is coming from when he asks "if they are'nt Bonsai why were they accepted for the contest?"

specially after the rules clearly stating that...

"This contest is for high quality trees, all submissions falling short of this standard will be rejected. Those that are borderline will be decided upon by the staff of AoB on a case-by-case basis."

The entrant would believe that the trees have already been screened at least to some extent and only trees of some standard were entered.

However the "not a bonsai" tag was only one person's opinion and need not be what is accepted by everyone. He tagged both my entrees as "not a Bonsai". it was very upsetting as I believe that my two tree although not complete are good specimens and are well on there way to becoming great Bonsais.

Then i thought to my self... Hang on... may be i could learn something from this guys comment. as such i asked the question in the forum set up for this purpose. However, to date he has not given me any idea as to why my tree were considered "not a Bonsai". Now I care less about his comment as there was no constructive critisism by him on anything!! any one can pass a nasty comment without properly justifying it. Until the comment is justified i for one will ignore it!

the comments, attitudes and thoughts of the Judges were not controlled by AOB and as such we should not hold it against AOB or the staff! that's what made the contest great in the first place!

As for not visiting these pages and not taking part in the contests again...

I for one will remain with AOB as i think this is a great site and I enjoy the pages tremendously. One comment of one Judge will not change this!

Author:  Attila Soos [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

Hi Devinda,

I took a look at your Ficus parasitica (#207). Bill Valavanis gave a 5, and I am sure that the reason was the trunk with very nice character, great taper and movement.

The zero from Marco must have come from the fact that the branches have very little ramification, and the branching is also too sparse for a tropical specimen.

So it received a very low grade for branch development, and good grade for the trunk.

One could argue that since this contest is for the highest quality trees, speciments with little or no branch development have no place in it.

On the bright side, if you focus on developing the branches, in 3 or 4 years your tree will certainly become a very good bonsai. You should also consider using some grafting techniques to increase the number of branches, all around the trunk.

I hope the above criticism is more constructive than Marco's.

Best regards,

Author:  Attila Soos [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

By the way, it would be a good idea if we started a thread with all the bonsai that received zero or 1 grades, and voice our opinions on why these low grades.I think that the owners of these trees would greatly appreciate it, and also it would lessen the pain and insult that they must have felt. It feels the worst when someone gives you bad grade and you don't know why. Bonsai is supposed to be fun, and there is really no reason to insult anybody who gets involved in it.

I also think that AOB is partially at fault in accepting some of the entrant pictures, when clearly the trees did not meet the standards of high quality (on the other hand Will H. was so busy trying to keep up with the daily chores, that we can hardly blame him for not doing everyting, and he deserves nothing but the highest praise for doing this).

It would also give a chance to participant to talk about actual bonsai, which is always a bonus on bonsai fora - instead of the meaningless chatter that often goes on.

Author:  Will Heath [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

That's a great idea Attila, would you like to handle this and make it happen?

Author:  Attila Soos [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

I would be happy to comment on each tree.

I am not sure what would be the best way to set this up, without further insulting the participants. It is easy to do with the ones like Devinda Peries, where the participant wishes his tree to be discussed.

May be they can be notified with an e-mail, recommending that they can start a thread with the tree in question, if they wish to get feed-back.

The other option would be that we start an thread for those, but some people could take this as being singled out. So the best way may be that they need to initiate a request for critique from the forum participants, by starting their own thread.

I am happy to take time and comment on these trees, but I don't have the time to handle the admin chores.

Author:  Devinda Peries [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

will / attila

i thought the entry discussion was set up with this in mind?

thanks attila for the comment on my ficus. I do fully agree with your opinion as this is my understanding as well. The tree has a long way to go from this point!

Author:  Marinko Beg [ Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

Attila Soos wrote:

I also think that AOB is partially at fault in accepting some of the entrant pictures, when clearly the trees did not meet the standards of high quality

This i what I thought in the first place, whan I saw all the entrances. I also agree with Marco's decision, some trees where realy not a bonsai.
Well, that's realy nice Idea from you Atilla, giving some critique.
On KoB contest, was at the and partially critique of each entry, but that's the different kind of contest. To treat so many trees is just too much work for the judges who are so busy anyway.

Author:  David Martin [ Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

Clearly constructive critiques of the entries should be welcomed.
Perhaps it was the scant comment of 'this is not a bonsai' or 'this is not a kusomono' without explanation that has proved too a bitter pill to swallow for some. But it was better than 'this is not worthy of comment' as in a previous competition.

The trouble was that there was only limited space on the scoring sheet and as a result Marco's comments may have appeared as dismissive.

Perhaps there should have been more control exercised by the editorial staff on some of the entries, but, it is no good dwelling on the subject. No doubts lessons will and have been learnt, I know that I have found the experience invaluable.

With regards to Attilla's offer to critique some of the entries (which is noble considering the possible number of requests he is likely to receive) am I mistaken or wasn't that the purpose of the topic, Entry Disscussion .
I perhaps mistakenly, thought, that Bill Valavanis was inviting entrants to place requests for comment on that section of the forum.
Obviously, this would be subject to time constraint he having to run a business as well?

Author:  Andy Jones [ Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

O.K. final comment, the Koreanbeam I entered is a yamadori imported into England by Kyoto Bonsai,a very well established wholesale bonsai nursery based in Knutsford, Cheshire. I subsuquently bought it from Wyndcote Bonsai, established 18 years ago by Mr John Barns. A similar example from the same batch can be viewed on Harry Harringtons site @ Bonsai4me.The Shimpaku Juniper I bought from Samlesbury Bonsai established some 50 years ago, it is a Japanese import, I have merely refined the orgional design by wiring, pinching etc., over the past 5 years. The hornbeam cost me £95:00. The shimpaku cost me £125:00, both are now in the compost bin, Thanks A.o.B..

Author:  Devinda Peries [ Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment

Andy Jones wrote:
both are now in the compost bin, Thanks A.o.B..

I went back into the pages and had a look at both your trees! I can clearly see two fundamental issues!

1. Being a photo contest of Bonsai... the silhouettes of your trees does not give the judges enough to see. all you can see is the basic out line of the tree. i don't think the photos are appropriate for the competition as no one can judge your trees. if they were intended for a different audience the pictures would be ok.

2. I fail to understand how any one can comment on the trees let alone call them "not a bonsai" based on the photos. if at all the comment should have been "i can not see what the tree looks like"!! I'm more convinced that Marco's comments are without any substance!!!

in my humble opinion Marco has overshot himself as the comment is NOT VALID as there possibly can not be any justification for his comment based on the photos.

Author:  Will Heath [ Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A.O.B Awards Judging Comment


Excellent comments.

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