Up, close and personal with Ikebana artist Ursula Altenbach

Meet Swiss born Ikebana artist Ursula Altenbach, who has thrilled India with her abstract interpretations. A senior teacher at Sogetsu School, she has been teaching the art of Ikebana for many years, and has conducted several exhibitions all over Europe & Brazil. Her solo exhibition in Ikebana & Art, partly with her students at Hilton Hotel in Sao Paulo, was displayed for around six weeks.

Ursula demonstrates Ikebana - a japanese sogestu art form

Ursula demonstrates Ikebana – a japanese sogestu art form

We get up, close and personal with Ursula in an exclusive conversation.

Could you tell us about Ikebana?

Ikebana is a  Japanese traditional floral art, which  comes from the world IKE-BA- NA meaning to mold so as to give life to the flowers. History goes back to the ancient time when Buddhist  priests offered flowers on the altar to Buddha. Later, royal family members and samurais started doing this art form, and with passing time ‘Ikebana’ became a custom within the Japanese society.

There are many wonderful Ikebana schools in Japan and I represent the ‘SOGETSU’ school which was founded in 1927 by Sofu Teshigahara. It was in contemporary style at that time. The keywords for Ikebana are Shape, Lines and Form. It is a creative art with rules and once the rules are learned, we are free to create our personal expressions using varied materials. One of the oldest Ikebana schools is ‘Ikenobo’.

Ikebana artist Ursula Altenbach, Consul General of Brazil Her Excellency Rosimar da Silva Suzano, and Consul General of Japan His Excellency Mr. Yoshiaki Ito

Ikebana artist Ursula Altenbach, Consul General of Brazil Her Excellency Rosimar da Silva Suzano, and Consul General of Japan His Excellency Mr. Yoshiaki Ito

From where do you draw your inspiration for these abstract interpretations? 

I draw inspiration from many things, sometimes the wind brushing against trees, rustling of leaves, vibrant colors of flowers, or an enchanting scenery. Additionally, in my paintings as well as in Ikebana learning from our ‘Lemoto’ and Masters in Japan is essential.

Tell our readers about how you started these floral arrangements.

At an Embassy  Event in Europe, I saw  a wonderful Installation of Sogetsu Ikebana many, many years ago; it was love at first sight. The next day, I enrolled in this school and got myself a teacher. And as they say, the rest is history.

Tell us one thing you love about India.

Colors and tastes, beauty of Antique Arts and Monuments among other things including my friends.

Amrit Rai. Ursula Altenbach and Vahishtai Ghosh

Amrit Rai, Ursula Altenbach and Vahishtai Ghosh

Any last words for our readers.

Art is in everyone, we only need to search it. Sometimes I had pupils who told me they have no talent, but love this Art and want to learn it. Today, they themselves have become wonderful teachers. When I do Ikebana I forget the world and only think about the beauty of creation at that moment.


A FMW Production

Story by: Esther Cabral

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