The Bonsai Without Borders Global Summit and Black Scissors Bonsai Creators Convention was co-hosted by the Huzhou Nanxun Phoenix Cultural Tourism Development Group and the BWB Global Summit and Black Scissors Community. It was held in Nanxum, a beautiful ancient city a few hours from Shanghai, China, on December 7-8, 2016. Su Fang, President of the Chinese Penjing Artists Association is also the co-founder of the “Black Scissors Community,” and promoter of Chinese penjing.
The Black Scissors community, founded by Su Fang and Robert Steven from Indonesia in 2014 to promote a new bonsai culture spirit, so anyone who feels having the Black Scissors spirit can call himself/herself a Black Scissors fellow. The mission is to promote the spirit of inclusive and respective bonsai sisterhood, spirit of enthusiasm to explore new ideas, spirit of freedom to create and to express, spirit of motivation to encourage and to share creativity of bonsai art in order to lift bonsai art to higher level in a new perspective…and free from bonsai politics! There are 33 international bonsai organizations from 22 countries which have joined the KOSBI Sister Community to promote the Black Scissors spirit. The Black Scissors Community remains as an informal and inclusive community which is cross nation, cross culture, cross religion, cross gender and cross generation.
Working together, throughout the world and the Black Scissors Communityd thinking “outside the box,” not being bound by traditional “rules” and traditions, however respecting history and the founders of the art are the goals of the community. The symbol of the Black Scissors community is to hold two fingers in a “V” formation pointing downward.
Nearly 300 bonsai leaders from around the world were invited to attend the BWB Global Summit from 35 countries, the first world convention initiated by China, the origin country of bonsai. The summit included media, honored guests as well as 70 bonsai artists from 35 countries for a demonstration.
The two day convention began with an Opening Ceremony, complete with loud music and a multitude of lighting. In the afternoon attendees were bused to the Shuanglin Guiran Bonsai Garden for a bonsai exhibition and demonstrations. Entering the garden were SWAT police, not so much for protection, but to guide the 300 attendees plus visitors to the garden to the appropriate areas. There were about 50 large and a few small beautiful bonsai on display surrounding the demonstration area.
The demonstration by 70 bonsai artists was GREAT! I never thought it could be done, but Su Fang did it, with style too! Upon entering the large greenhouse with shade cloth each artist picked a ball by lottery indicating which tree they were to work on. Nobody knew which tree was theirs, or were they were to demonstrate from. The large size junipers were 20 years old and had been wired twice. They were huge, all potted in identical containers in a soil, which looked, like concrete. They must have weighed 100 lbs. each. All the artists were provided with a complete selection of sissy wire and the trees were placed on small, but strong and sturdy turntables. Each artist had a shelf where they could put tools and other articles out of the way. A trash box as well as a full bag of Japanese akadama soil, drinking water, a can of beer and wooden blocks for changing the angle of the tree were provided. Many of the trees were created into cascade style bonsai. Additionally a carpeted strong wooden box was used to stand on while working the trees was provided for everyone. Some did not use the box, like Bjorn, but I did…. and I would have needed two boxes, but had a tall stool next to me to sit on while carving.
There were two levels of demonstrators, surrounded by stadium seating with covered chairs and carpeted flooring. Lights were everywhere so the demonstrators could see the trees. I think there were TV monitors too, as well as flags from each country. Loud music was also there, but we did not need it to keep us awake. Colored moving lights were around the display bonsai around the perimeter of the room. It was difficult to photograph the trees. Once I started, I did not stop, not even to use the restroom. There was no time. I did not even see the other demonstrations. There was TV crews and many provided interviews for the media. My good friend, Diane Boekhout, President of the Bonsai Society of Western Australia in Perth, and also President of the Association of Australian Bonsai Clubs took many of the photos included here, as well as Su Fang because I was not able to watch others and see everything.
Following the four hour, part 1 of the demonstrations we returned to the hotel for the BWB Ball. People were asked to dress in their country’s native dress. So, of course, being an American, one of my students who is a native American Indian provided me with authentic clothing, including a loin cloth (yes, I wore underwear) but not the headdress. Real eagle feathers are sacred so others were used. Many friends wanted their photos taken with me. Sometimes a line formed. When I left the room, the waiters, waitresses and kitchen staff corned me for more photos.
The final day began with part 2 of the demonstrations. Since my tree was rather complex and I created quite a bit of dead wood, fine wiring was not completed, but the basic design was there. Many of the demonstrators had time to pot their trees into bonsai containers. All the trees were photographed against a black background for the upcoming book. I did not even have time to visit the garden’s sales area were great containers, display tables and more were for sale.
In the afternoon we returned to the hotel for the BWB Forum where 25 bonsai leaders from around the world spoke and showed images of their country’s bonsai, activities and thoughts on the Black Scissors creative bonsai movement.
In the evening of the final day everyone was bused to another hotel for the BWBonsai Gala, black tie formal event that began with an interesting and educational short program on the history of Chinese penjing. Great images! Following was loud music and lighting, which looked like a stage show. Yes, there even were stage girls as well as singers and a belly dancer…. People partied and danced and everyone had a great finale to a wonderful two day convention.
Su Fang and his assistant Mia Wang worked very hard to organize and conduct the historic Bonsai Without Borders convention. Having sponsored and organized over 30 symposia as well as five US National Bonsai Exhibitions and other events, I can attest that Su Fang’s event was excellent and well organized. The penjing and bonsai community has been blessed with the leadership of Su Fang. Thanks for a job well done my friend!
Mia Wang with newlyweds Su Fang and Kay