WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I’m Dutch-Australian, born in the southern part of the Netherlands, moving to the foothills of the Mt. Dandenong Ranges (Corhanwarrabul), Melbourne, as a small child. Growing up, I had several short-term jobs working with Australian native plants, as well as experience with cut flower-growing and floral displays for a local council, all of which have fed into my long-term passion for organic materials. I come from a performance and installation art background (www.66bcell.com), moving to Japan in the 90s to study the martial art Aikido and the avant-garde dance known as Butoh. All in all, I spent 25 years in Japan, where I also studied the Sogetsu style of Japanese Ikebana and acquired my teacher certification. Living in Japan has deeply influenced my sense of aesthetics, awareness of nature, and attitude to life and art.
WHAT IS IKEBANA?
This is a question that really can't be answered in a nutshell and I encourage people to do their own research to learn more deeply about it. To put it briefly, it is an art form with a long tradition, from floral offerings in temples to simple adornments placed in alcoves (called tokonoma). It became popular among the general public and today there are many schools, including Sogetsu. Compositions can be as simple as a single flower or leaf, to more elaborate arrangements incorporating flowers, branches, and other objects. There is always a sense of symbolism and seasonality. Nowadays it is an art form that can be shared and appreciated by everyone.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MOVE TO CAIRNS, FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND?
I'm actually returning as I lived here many years ago and worked for a while as a sea-kayaking assistant for an adventure company. Those were times when things were a bit 'wilder' in that respect! Cairns is actually a portal or gateway to the north and so it is a place where my Japanese partner and I have been entering and leaving for years. A place where mountains meet the sea evokes a certain nostalgic feeling, and there are echoes of Japan, with canefields instead of rice paddies. With an abundance of flowers and foliage, I'm seeking a kind of tropical zen!