In case you were wondering why, and more specifically why name it “Natural Flux”…
For the last few years an idea had been gnawing away in the back of my mind; how to make bonsai more contemporary, more interesting to the non bonsai enthusiast and to do something which was an evolutionary step without losing the essence of the art form in which I undertook a traditional education. Tradition is the foundation upon which we can develop new ideas and take what has been done and reinvent. In most cases this is simply a reiteration of what was done by previous generations and in many ways, this project is exactly the same as the activities of the early Japanese bonsai world.
After the Meiji Revolution in 1868 the arts in Japan began to flourish and bonsai began to find a new audience and new practices. Bonsai enthusiasts and professionals began to explore possibilities; using ceramics from China, adopting rustic container lids as pots, collaborating with master cabinet makers to create display stands and requesting pots from the established ceramic artists of the time.
In order to create a contemporary bonsai culture and new western aesthetic appreciation of bonsai then who better to copy than the Japanese pioneers and simply repeat that which has gone before, an extra iteration with more modern ideas and artists.
After the crystallisation of the idea, a location was found and a search for artists who would complement the aims of the as yet unnamed project was undertaken. Everybody jumped in despite my assurances of there being no guarantee of any success.
A lengthy though process went into the naming of the project and in the end and despite some advice against it, I used one of my favourite words which I picked up from my Astrophysics days, Flux.
It is not an often used word but it describes the state of flowing, a constant change which surrounds us every day and in every way. This idea was put forward by the ancient philosopher Heraclitus who said,
We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not
Nature itself is change, hot becomes cold, wet becomes dry, rivers flow and are never the same. Human existence is in a state of constant change and evolution, a flow from birth to death. We step into the river and step out as different people, never to be the same again.
This idea of constant change is fundamental to the appreciation of bonsai and is a central tenet of Japanese philosophy. Mujo, or the concept of impermanence is a daily feature of bonsai where life and death are intertwined with each other and the changing of the seasons. As a bonsai artist one soon becomes aware of the transience of existence, a reason it appealed to the Japanese.
The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with the people and dwellings of the world.
Personally, the whole idea of constant change fascinates me and has driven me to pursue bonsai, so it seemed fitting to use the name “Natural Flux” to describe a change and evolution in it.
For those with an engineering understanding then the name holds a double meaning as flux is a cleaning and purifying agent used in the fusion of two metals or the smelting process. Again perfectly appropriate for the aims of the project.
For those with a medical background or an interest in archaic terms…lets skip over that.