Hi, everybody,

here is an impression of my long weekend at the “JOY OF BONSAI 2010” event and the two-day demo I did in the beautiful town of Bath ( U.K).


Having missed out on so many events this past year, because of my worsening back problems, I wanted to make sure that I would make it to this lovely event. Because I hold so many great memories of my two earlier appearances, I even postponed my inevitable second back operation, just to be able to go again! I left my home early on Friday and after just a short one-hour flight I was picked up from the Bristol airport to be dropped off at Dan and Cecilia Barton’s house. And from the minute I walked into that door, until the moment that I walked out again on Monday, I was pampered in the most wonderful way that I had ever experienced! Ci, Jan and Mary T.  made my stay there feel like a long warm bath. I bow my head deeply in gratitude to these 3 gorgeous angels!

And what can I say about Dan Barton: well, I got to know him a lot better this weekend. As a great artist, potter and philosopher. But most of all I got to know his great sense of humour and his love of life! The long talk we had about the arts and life while sipping on his best whiskey, deep into the night, was a true highlight of this trip! The stories of his times with his great friend John Naka were all inspiring and soooo funny! In today’s bonsai world, where so many think they are God’s gift to Bonsai and where others are only in it to make a fast big buck, it is nice to know that there are still people out there like Dan Barton! He turned my nose in the right direction again!

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Above: Just look at the ramification of this lovely Bonsai that Dan has been training for many years!

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Above: One of Dan Barton’s sculptures in his garden Koi pond.

The event was staged again in the “Pavilion” in the old town of “Bath”. This is a beautiful old town that is heavily influenced by the “Romans”. There are endless beautiful buildings and places to see. So really early on the very sunny Sunday morning, before the second day of hard work would start there, I sneaked out to take some pictures with my new camera. The town was mostly still asleep, so it was a wonderful experience to walk true these old streets that hold so much history.

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Below: My Saturday demonstration tree. A wonderful Pinus Sylvestris from Terry Foster.

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The above picture is on loan from Mark and Rita (bonsaikichi), but I am sure they don’t mind! 🙂 After the work was finished all demonstrators discussed their work with the eager public.

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Above: This is the stunning Yamadori Juniper of the young talent from Belgium, Yannick Kiggen. This poor picture shows his Juniper after the first day of cleaning and partly wiring the tree. Sadly I have no pictures of the lovely end result he created, so I hope someone can email one to me! But anyway, this Yannick is a great guy, who is made of the right Bonsai material and a real promise of the European Bonsai scene. He made a great first impression!!

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Above: This close-up nicely shows Yannick’s knowledge of advanced Techniques and his braveness to use them to create his vision.  To make it possible to bend this branch and bring the foliage closer to the trunk, Yannick had to separate the deadwood (left part) from the life vein (right part).   


Above: TADAAA!!! A great picture of Yannick’s finished tree. Thanks again for sending me this picture Mark!

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               Above: Mister Tickle doing his lecture on virtual Bonsai design.

Below: My Sunday demonstration tree. This wonderful old Yamadori Yew was also provided for me to style, by my dear friend Terry Foster.

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Above: All the foliage grew on the opposite left side from where I needed it to be, the right side. To create my new top, I had to try and bend this pinkie-thick old branch to the right and upwards (green arrow). The problem was, that there was a Shari running along this branch, just at the point where I needed it to bend. So at the yellow arrow, I removed about half an inch of the deadwood and then I hollowed it out as much as was safe.

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Above: Then 3 layers of raffia and 1 layer of tape were tightly applied to protect the branch from breaking at that point.

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Above: Cleaning the deadwood. Because this tree was a bid lose in its pot, I secured it as well as possible to the table. But even so, the cleaning work was kept to a minimum to prevent any damage to the roots!

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Above: It is not the best picture in the world, but it is the only one I got for now! After I finished the tree, it was brought to this stage, where I was able to tell the people what I had done and why! So on the way up on this. to the high table,  the lower-left branch was unfortunately pushed upward. The tree should be seen from higher up, more looking down on the foliage. And more turned to the right. But as long as you got the impression and idea of my styling, it’s good enough for me! 🙂

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Above: And here is a much better one. Thanks, Mark and Rita for mailing them to me!

The movement and deadwood on this old Yew are truly amazing. I tried to style the foliage in such a way that it would highlight these lines. Keep in mind the story that this battered cascading Yew is telling to us all! This pre-bonsai will look lovely in a couple of years. Thanks, Terry for the chance to work on this wonderful tree! I hope you like the result of my work?

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            Above: This big (fake plastic) masterpiece was a real crowd-pleaser.

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                           Above: Serge demo Pine after the first day of work.

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Above: My friend Serge Clemence and his beautifully styled 2-day demo Pine and the drawing he made for it. This guy is the real deal!!!


                   Above: Steve Tolley’s demo tree. Picture by Will Baddeley.

So here ends my impression of yet another great “JOY OF BONSAI” event! Although it was sometimes hard, I would not have missed it for the world! ABBA and all its volunteers staged a truly inspiring show! And I am proud that I was able to play my little part in it!


Hans van Meer.




7 thoughts on “MY VISIT TO “JOY OF BONSAI” 2010.”

  1. Hi Matt, I know! And that’s why it was such a crowd pleaser, most of them thought it was the real deal! And it still is a master piece in my eyes, it took the guy 3 years to make this fake out of modeling clay! But now consider this: those this fake look like a the real Bonsai? Or those the original bonsai that it is made after, looks like a imitation and plastic tree? Because this question confused us all, I wanted to see/hear the reactions of people after they would hear from me that it was a fake! That’s why I posted its picture in my little story!


  2. Hi Hans,
    I take your point: to some degree it shows us how contrived and over stylized (contrived or un-tree-like) bonsai can be… is this a bad thing? I’m not sure. As a creation this is moderately impressive (not a masterpiece to my mind).
    My main problem with it is that a bonsai is a photosynthesising, respiring, and growing organism: next to a living tree any modeled replica is disapointing!


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