I was not allowed to announce or share photos of the winning trees until after the award ceremony. The awards were different this year from last year’s “China Ding” award for the best individual penjing. This year the awards went to the artists with the best collection of trees. Below are the top trees in the exhibition.
It’s quite interesting that all three are Japanese black pine. AND even more interesting is that some came from Japan. The China Zun Award was presented to the artist who had the top three scoring bonsai collection. When the top winner cam on stage he never smiled and later we learned that he is in business, not a hobbyist and people did not like that he or the imported tree won. It WAS a good tree. The award was brought out on stage on a rolling cart and looked quite heavy. There were two award trophies a large and small version for the winners of the top three tree collection and the smaller one for the artist who had the next best 10 tree collection.
There was an orchestra of over 100 people on stage in front of a large digital screen with two side screens, all synchronized to the music, which showed beautiful Chinese scenery. Also, many images of the penjing in the exhibition were flashed on the screen several times with no captions. The top award winning Japanese black pine was not revealed until nearly the end of the program, which also included traditional Chinese singing and solo performances.
On Friday everyone, guests, demonstrators and judges were bused to the exhibition. When we left the hotels it was raining and quite foggy, not too good for enjoying an exhibition in a large field track. I personally walked 5.6 miles on Wednesday when judging the penjing.
The hotel had umbrellas and as we were walking in, suddenly the rain stopped. The sun even came out later on in the morning and it got quite warm, but there was plenty of bottled water available. It seemed as though God was smiling on this world class and most important exhibition of penjing in China. During the late afternoon, after the outdoor demonstrations finished, it began raining again.
There were many signs announcing the exhibition and on the main building there were many long signs with the names of the sponsors. It looked like a bottled water company must have been a sponsor. Everywhere we looked were people handing out free bottles of water. Even in the forum later on in the day we were given water and every seat in the auditorium had water. Student from the school were all around helping people, picking up debris and handing out water.
Upon entry there were large banners with the photo and background of each judge, and in English as well. Around the corner there were three huge white signs with all the point scoring of each of the 121 bonsai and the names of the judges with their personal scores. If an exhibitor wanted to contest or discuss their scores they could simple track down the judge, remember all the judge’s photos were posted. Tony Tickle and I were not confronted and were pleased about that.
As people were putting away their umbrellas the fog was lifting and people could enjoy the beauty of each large scale impressive penning. In a large building, out of the weather were three smaller exhibitions:
The largest of the indoor exhibitions featured over 100 valuable stones. At first my impression was like a fancy jewelry store. Beautiful and fantastic stones were well displayed and professionally well late. Many were large and people touched the stones to feel their texture. Smaller stones were behind individual glass cases. Down the center of the room were several large round tables, typical of Chinese restaurants. They were completely filled with small plates which looked like real food, but they were actually all stones and quite realistic.
The famous calligrapher, Chen Xishan, was featured in a three room exhibition. Many of the strokes were bold and distinctive, while a few were delicate. There were over 50 works of art including several multi scroll displays featuring a poem or story written on many scrolls, all hung together with the frame on the outside scrolls. All I could think of is if the artist spent considerable time, talent and work to write a poem on a scroll and suddenly he was distracted and goofed up the last character. The 11 scrolls make up a single presentation was quite unusual to me.
Although I did not see it advertised, there was a section of a gymnasium converted into a Chinese room filled with hand made, high quality rosewood furniture. On one table the artist showed the construction of a table with all the holes and slots for the hard wood to be joined together, with no nails of course. That’s the reason for high prices on quality display tables for bonsai as well because their makers use many of the same techniques.
Last year the Chinese National Penjing Exhibition did not include a large sales area. Well, they made up for it this year by setting up in a parking lot next to the exhibition building. There were vendors offering containers, penjing, pre-penjing, tools, rocks and more. Many of the vendors set up pop up tents which are common at art shows and festivals in the United States. With the rain and heat they became welcome shelters. There were huge penjing as well as much smaller specimens.
To me the Japanese bonsai “imported” stuck out like a sore thumb and were more refined than the Chinese penjing. But, unless you were familiar with Japanese bonsai one would never know. They have a different beauty than Chinese penjing. Japanese soil and books were also sold. On the judging day I saw an artist selling fine-quality expensive small display tables. There were several root stands, which I was interested in, but he was not there on the opening day and another vendor selling containers was in his tent.
Buy my Ginkgo please or take my wife!
Trident maple stumps. All sold out quickly at USD $2,000 each.
The same grower also displayed a tree he developed from a stump. Although beautiful this bonsai lacks the twigs and maturity of an older tree.