A little over a fortnight ago Storm Filomena covered Madrid in a thick blanket of snow. The heaviest snowfall in over 50 years made it impossible to drive and turned the snow-filled streets into toboggan runs and ski fields.
After a night of particularly heavy snowfall, we awoke to discover that we were trapped in our house due to fallen trees across our front doorway. While waiting for the trees to be cleared, and as our neighbourhood was also placed under perimeter lockdown due to Covid-19, we decided to spend the day playing in the snow in our back garden.
While trudging knee deep through the snow in our garden I remembered my favourite quote from Kadensho – The Book of Flowers (1996). When asked what he would do if he lived in a desert with no flowers to arrange, Sofu Teshigahara replied that he would arrange the earth. As my daughters built snow castles and had snowball fights, I decided to arrange the snowy earth.
Inspired by the ephemeral Land Art of Andy Goldsworthy, I made a series of outdoor ikebana arrangements using snow and ice. In Sogetsu Ikebana it is possible to use both fresh material and unconventional material in creating arrangements. As a result, I decided to use snow and ice as unconventional material in a series of ikebana arrangements.
When creating the series of snow inspired outdoor arrangements, I was very conscious not to blur the boundaries between Land Art and ikebana. To maintain this distinction, I endeavoured to maintain the Principles of Sogetsu Ikebana: line, mass and colour. The flexibility of the snow enabled me to create not only different structural forms, but also combine different shapes to create patterns of ‘mass’.
Working with such an ephemeral material was a wonderful learning experience that pushed me beyond my comfort zone (not just physically, due to my aversion to the cold). I am most at ease when I am able to take time creating arrangements, studying my materials and giving full consideration to each branch and flower. Working with snow and ice is a battle against time, where contemplation and consideration must give way to speed and intuition. The forces of nature can change in a moment and as soon as mother nature provides a bountiful supply of new and interesting material to use, the sun can appear and in an instant it all melts away.