Exhibition: “Symphony of Elements” elaborately displays the five elements of nature through Ikebana

To someone unfamiliar with the tradition behind the term, ‘Ikebana’ would bring to mind the simple idea of a flower arrangement. Given a chance to look a bit closer through the “Symphony of Elements” exhibition by the Ohara School of Ikebana’s Delhi Chapter, one discovers an art form: flowers, stems, stalks and even mushrooms forming creations with nuances and detailing not far in spirit from brushstrokes forming a painting or notes making a song. Ranging from simple, small arrangements to sprawling, elaborate ones, each creation presented its own individual rendition of the larger theme of the exhibition: bringing together the five elements of nature in a spirit of harmony. Possibly the largest arrangement of the group greeted one at the entrance itself, created by the president of the Delhi chapter, Meena Iyer. It was a tall, elaborate affair using flowers, foliage, wood and water to denote all the five elements together. A similarly oriented smaller arrangement, though equally elaborate, by Mythili Ramaswamy created a landscape: earth in the form of tall driftwood pieces representing a mountain with a few white chrysanthemum to denote snow, a small bunch of orange-yellow blooms denoting fire immediately to the right followed by small Juniper branches peeping out of the water-filled container, arranged so as to convey the presence of air and culminating in a tall arrangement of leaves reaching for the skies, adorned with fragrant flowers above and a solitary bright pink water lily alongside mushrooms below.

On reading a little about the basics of Ikebana, an important aspect that emerges is the need for a sense of harmony between the materials and the container within which they are set, something that also found expression at the exhibition: Monali Sharma created a sense of nature’s autonomy and wilderness by placing her arrangement in a clay pot broken in half, with the flowers and leaves seeming almost to grow into the the spaces they found; Nupur Agrawal’s depiction of water was set in a wood container shaped like a boat, filled with blue and white hydrangea flowers that conveyed visually what the little note on the side put down in words: a sense of restfulness in flowing with the tide; and Hema Patkar’s rendition of fire and earth using withered leaves, green stems and red flowers stood tall in an exquisite traditional Japanese urn. As one went around the room taking in each arrangement, one after another, all in unison created an experience for the eyes as well as the spirit: colourful, creative and imparting a sense of tranquillity and harmony that the larger theme of the exhibition was meant to convey.