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Connecting - An Ikebana Exhibition in Lunenburg NS

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Connecting - An Ikebana Exhibition was held on June 1-2, 2019 at the Lunenburg Library in the historic town of Lunenburg, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Founded in 1773, the town itself is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its narrow streets and well-preserved architecture. It is also the birthplace of the famed Bluenose, a racing schooner built in 1921, which lives on in the Canadian ten-cent coin. Lunenburg has a very vibrant arts community and ikebana fit right in. The library is housed in the Lunenburg Academy, an imposing 3-storey Victorian building, built in 1893-95.

The Lunenburg Academy.


This exhibition’s theme is “connecting”. Through ikebana, we connect people, nature and cultures. It is also an expression of our wish to deepen further our bond with the South Shore. We thank the South Shore Public Libraries and the staff of the Lunenburg Library in particular for your very warm welcome and your patience as we prepared for this event.

This exhibition is also part of the on-going celebrations of the 90th anniversary of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations.

Welcome arrangement by Miyako.

Group Arrangement by Val S, Susan R and Miyako
Three arrangements all using a red furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) as a unifying theme.

Arrangements by Lely A
Lely created 4 arrangements in the basic styles and peppered them all around the library. Her work exuded a lot of tranquility and somehow brought a feeling of kindness to the library. Many people commented how they loved seeing the ikebana tucked in the little corners of the library.

The small arrangement placed right on an old water fountain was a big hit! Nobody imagined that could be a place for a floral arrangement.

Arrangement by Val S
Val paired her arrangement with a woodblock print by artist and master printmaker, Robin Wall. The artwork, titled Light/Boat Patterns (1989), depicted boats at North Head Harbour in Grand Manan, NB. Val introduced nautical elements in her work with mesh wire, branches and grass, intricately put together into a shape that brings to mind the prow of a boat, or perhaps fishing nets being dried on the wharf.

Arrangements by Susan R
Susan, who is based in Mahone Bay, was our point person for this project and did a lot of the legwork!

Wall arrangement. Susan liked the "boxiness" of the euonymous branches. She then added a smooth willow branch for texture contrast and a bit of quince for colour contrast. One visitor exclaimed: "There's so much je-ne-sais-quoi in this work!"

An arrangement with driftwood and obi spilling down to the bottom…did you notice the blue-painted branches in the back that provided beautiful colour contrast?

…and a simple coffee table arrangement!

Arrangements by Miyako
The centrepiece for this exhibit is this large work that showed a clash of curly and smooth branches…but ultimately making a connection in the middle.

And some smaller arrangements: table top and door hanging.

Miyako’s demonstration was very well-attended. We loved the audience enthusiasm and interest! There were audible gasps when Miyako took out some weeds with big leaves from the bucket and started using them in an arrangement. Yes, weeds can be ikebana material too!

Photo credit: Daphna L. Thank you!

And here’s the gang that made this exhibition possible. Thank you very much Val, Susan, Lely and Martin (who worked behind-the-scenes!).

Press Release: Connecting - An Ikebana Exhibition

Added on by the ikebana shop.

For Immediate Release - May 18th, 2019

Ikebana on the South Shore of Nova Scotia!

Connecting - An Ikebana Exhibition will be held at the Lunenburg Library on the weekend of June 1-2, 2019.

Ikebana is the art of Japanese floral arrangement. This exhibition’s theme is “connecting”. Through ikebana, we connect people, nature and cultures.

This event is part of the 90th anniversary celebration of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations.

The exhibition will be presented by Miyako Ballesteros (Sogetsu School of Ikebana) and her students. Please come and enjoy the ikebana.

Admission is free.

Connecting - An Ikebana Exhibition

Jun 1st (Sat) 10 - 5 p.m. *
Jun 2nd (Sun) 12 - 4 p.m.
*Short live demonstration on Saturday, 2:00 p.m.

At the Lunenburg Library (Lunenburg Academy 1F, 97 Kaubach St., Lunenburg NS)

We hope to see you there.

Surprise! - An Ikebana Exhibition

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Surprise! - An Ikebana Exhibition was held last May 10-12, 2019 at the Keshen Goodman Library in Halifax. We chose the theme “surprise” with the bold mission to surprise people with what they can do with oft taken for granted plants that are easily found in backyards and roadsides! So in this exhibit, you’d have seen familiar things, —pine and spruce branches, magnolia, quince, bridal wreath and lots of tree bark—alongside blooms from the florist! Thank you to all who visited us! We hope you enjoyed the arrangements as much as we did creating them!


We are very grateful to the Keshen Goodman Library who let us use their beautiful space. The staff were all very welcoming and helpful! Special mention to Dacia M. for her patience with us. Preparations and take-down could not have gone any smoother!

This exhibition is part of the on-going celebrations of the 90th anniversary of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations. It also coincided with the Asian Heritage Month festivities in Halifax.


To the people who made this possible: Val S, Susan R, Nina D, Media C, Jean H, Robert L, Brenda D, Heather N, M. S., Linda K and Cody O. A very BIG thank-you! Your hard-work and dedication to ikebana are very much appreciated. We hope to do another exhibition next year!

(Photo credit: Kent Martin)

Arrangement by Jean H
We are welcomed to the exhibit by this floor position arrangement by Jean H. Hydrangea, magnolia and delphinium.


Arrangement by Val S
How Val deftly peeled away the bark from a fallen birch tree is beyond us! Pink lines and pink blooms accent the white bark perfectly.

Arrangement by Susan R
A lovely vase (origin unknown but acquired at the local Xmas market in Mahone Bay!) paired with driftwood from Nova Scotia’s shores. Something very wabi-sabi about this!

Arrangements by Nina D
Nina uses spirea branches called bridal wreath. The shrub with droopy branches grow all over Nova Scotia and blooms with little white flowers…but for these arrangements, Nina uses them not for the flowers but to show lines.

Arrangements by Media C
Exotic-looking vases! Gentle curves of delicate grass contrasted with a chunk of rough, fallen wood!

Arrangement by Robert L
Robert says he never heard of Bells of Ireland till he started ikebana lessons…and now he just absolutely loves them!

Arrangement by Brenda D
Brenda tells us that weeks before the exhibit, she already mentally placed “reserved” tags on select branches of the spruce tree in her backyard. ..and behold, a nageire with very strong lines. The addition of a piece of bark at the bottom anchors the forceful upward surge of those branches.

Arrangement by Heather N
Quince branches and lilies. This arrangement was evolving as the lilies started to bloom during the 3-day exhibit!

Arrangement by M.S.
May is the month when irises bloom in Japan as well so this arrangement connects us to the seasons in Japan as well! Irises normally grow straight up but M.S. bends these irises to her will!

(Photo credit: Robert L)

(Photo credit: Robert L)

Arrangement by Linda K
This arrangement is meant to be seen all around.

Arrangement by Cody O
In ikebana, the clearness of the water is an important element. Cody O gives us more to appreciate by adding some blooms in the water!

Arrangements by Miyako
A convolution of corkscrew willow branches, crisscrossing in brightly painted red and natural colours. (Thank you, Nina D, for bringing these branches, freshly pruned, from the Annapolis Valley!)

(Photo credit: Kent Martin)

There is a pine tree in our backyard that fell after a strong storm some years ago. Recently, its old bark started coming off…and this is showcased in this arrangement. Miyako inserted some pine needles to remind us that the bark was from a pine tree. With the aged bark, Miyako added some young, budding magnolia branches! The vase is by local pottery artist, Sally Ravindra (Purcell’s Cove Pottery).

These uncannily curving branches were found on the roadside. Arranged on a tall vertical vase with a few tufts of moss added to give some sense of motion…like a pinwheel!

(Photo credit: Kent Martin)

Last but certainly not least…thank you, Kent Martin, for visiting the exhibition and allowing us to use your photos. Kent Martin is a professional photographer/film producer who is currently working on The Halifax Project—a documentary of our beloved city, Halifax NS!

Afterglow 2016: The Beauty of Imperfection

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Afterglow Art Festival was held on Sept 24th, 2016 in Bridgewater, NS.  We were again fortunate for the opportunity to participate, this time in collaboration with talented textile artists Susan Lilley (shibori dyeing) and Phyllis Price (sashiko stitching).  The ikebana team is Miyako Ballesteros and Susan Robertson.

The four of them have joined forces in an exploration of Japanese culture through its application to contemporary textile art and flower arranging.

Suan Lilley (shibori dyeing)

Phyllis Price (sashiko stitching)

Susan Robertson (ikebana)

Miyako Ballesteros (ikebana)

Pulling ideas together and seeing them all come to fruition were a lot of fun!

The exhibit sought to expose viewers to two deeply held Japanese values: mottainai (disdain for waste) and wabi-sabi (appreciation for old and imperfect items).  In North American throw-away, these lesson have important application for achieving sustainability in the 21st century.

Truth be told, I just love dyeing cloth, cutting it up and sewing it back together again to create exciting, original artwork.

I’ve been doing this for near on 10 years, sometimes inspired by a place or a feeling, but more often inspired by the marks and the light I’ve created on white, (often old) fabric, using various techniques, including the ancient Japanese art of shibori.

I’m drawn to shibori for so many reasons. My brain is challenged by an exploration of cause and effect, as I repeatedly stitch, fold, clamp, and dye each piece of fabric to achieve a desired result. And yet the results are always unpredictable. Mysterious. Imperfect. Inspiring. Forcing me to release control of the outcome, leading me along new pathways, challenging me to create simple, abstract artwork that evokes an emotional response for me, and I hope, in the viewer.
— Susan Lilley
In some thirty-odd years of textile work, I’ve always been drawn to the random combination of seemingly disparate and often reclaimed fabrics, embellished through the Zen process of hand stitching. The use of recycled fabrics appealed to the frugality I inherited from my ancestors, as well as my environmentalism. The Depression-era mantra of “use it up, wear it out, make it over or do without” guides not only my textile work but my general approach to life.

This past year, through connection with friends more knowledgeable than I about Japan, I’ve discovered how these concepts have been important touchstones in that country’s culture as well. The reverence for much-loved, much-used and often imperfect everyday items, the collage-like approach to layering old fabrics joined together through the meditative process of sashiko stitching, and the Japanese interpretation of frugality (mottanai) have both deepened and broadened my textile work. I expect that these “lessons from Japan” will continue to influence both my stitching and my life in days ahead.
— Phyllis Price
It seemed like time stood still the first time I saw an ikebana arrangement. That unexpected response drew me to this art of arranging plant material. Initially I was a passionate admirer. Over a period of years I took a few classes, played around with it a little and enjoyed other people’s work. In 2009 I became a serious student.

Ikebana has taught me a new way of seeing detail, simplicity, imperfection, balance and space. I love the way each composition reveals and highlights the unnoticed or hidden beauty of not only the plant material but water, a container, or the empty space that surrounds it. I can delight in the most minute detail, an intriguing line, or a color that’s been made apparent or more prominent through trimming, placement, and use of the space.

In the process of creating some new arrangement I am totally absorbed and literally lost never knowing where it will end up. When I am finally satisfied that it’s complete I enjoy a quiet state of overwhelming ecstasy.
— Susan Robertson
Ikebana is an art form that constantly reminds us of our connection to nature. Using plant materials taken from the backyard (even the weeds!) and maybe a few flower stems, we are able to create an arrangement. In the spring/summer, we have fresh and vibrant foliage, full of green; in the fall, a change of colour; in the winter, simply bare branches, revealing their beautiful lines. The eternal changing of seasons never seem to bore us. No two seasons are ever identical. So it is with ikebana. There is always something the same yet there is always something different. After more than 20 years of practice, every arrangement is still refreshingly new.

In Nova Scotia, I am surrounded by nature. Trees and shrubs growing in their native habitat show me the beauty of their natural forms and lines. Even worm-eaten leaves reminds me that life is happening everywhere. All this is an inspiration to me.
— Miyako Ballesteros

Hanging Arrangement by Susan Robertson.

We are especially grateful to the people at Keller Williams Select Realty, Bridgewater office--Monica, Carol & Henry--for your help and generosity in letting us use your offices!  Also a big thank-you to Ashton Rodenhiser and the rest of the Afterglow organizing committee for having us and making this magical night happen!  

P.S. Thank you Phyllis for letting us use some of your photos!

Ikebana At Toyota Lexus Halifax

Added on by the ikebana shop.

If you are out shopping for a car, visit the Toyota Lexus showroom in Halifax!

We put up an ikebana installation there.  Way up there above the showcase shelving! See it?

Toyota and Lexus being Japanese brands, we hope to show a little bit more of the Japanese aesthetic in the showroom.  We express through flowers elements of the automobile design: elegance, boldness, power.

Sometimes, it is good to work outside the studio and create something BIG...a very different experience from the usual table-top arrangement.  The project is a collaborative effort by Miyako and her advanced students : Val S., Susan R., Jean H. and Patti V.  

Toyota Lexus had asked for something that could stay in place through the Christmas season. So, dried materials were used.  Apart from the bleached palm, all other plant materials were those that can be found in Nova Scotia.

Bleached palm leaves.

Gold maple leaves and Canada holly (ilex) among others.

We also used Japanese obi.

We searched far and wide to get the right material! :-)

Planning, designing, creating the mock-up took an effort.  But we enjoyed doing it!  With everyone working together, there was an excellent exchange of ideas.

(L-R) Miyako, Jean and Patti.


Since the arrangement was to be placed atop a 2-metre high shelf, we had to imagine it being viewed from the below.

Susan and Miyako.

The other challenge, of course, was bringing the work to the showroom...and the actual installation.  Many thanks to Val's engineering & carpentry skills for coming up with a great "scaffold"!

Here are more views of the installation.

The installation will be there throughout December, 2015.  Please visit when you have the chance!

We are very grateful to Toyota Lexus Halifax for generously allowing us to use their showroom.  It is never easy to find big spaces for big arrangements!

Thank you to Val, Susan, Jean and Val!  We hope you enjoyed the project.  We are proud of your work.  As well, thanks to Susan and Patti for sharing your photos with us!


Afterglow Ikebana

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Miyako and Susan worked long and hard to design this installation for the Afterglow Art Festival, held in Bridgewater, NS last Sep. 25~26, 2015.  The ever-evolving mock-up took over our garage for well over a month!

We thank Jim of Rofihe's Men's Wear (629 King St., Bridgewater, NS) for allowing use of the store's show window for the ikebana installation.  The location was perfect!

Photo courtesy of Susan Robertson.

Have We Met Before?

We are all witness to the wild beauty that grows quietly along our roadsides and gets washed up upon the shore. What if we took that material inside? Susan Roberston is an Ikebana Enthusiast, Admirer, and Student and Miyako Ballesteros is a qualified Instructor Sogetsu School of Ikebana and Co-Owner of the Ikebana Shop in Halifax. Ikebana is an art in which the force of life in living plants and the spirit of the person arranging unite to create new beauty and form.
— Entry #17, Afterglow Art Festival 2015

It looks like the ladies enjoyed themselves.  Here is the ikebana at night.

Thank you to everyone who came to see the work.  Thank you to Ashton Rodenhiser and the rest of the organizers of Afterglow Art Festival for letting us participate in this wonderful event.

Miyako & Susan, o-tsukaresamadeshita!

Nocturne: Art At Night 2014

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Once again, on one magical night, our shop was transformed into a little ikebana gallery.  

It was hard work to put all the merchandise away and set the stage.  

But it was harder work to design the arrangements!   All worth it.

On October 18th, 2014, from 6 p.m. to midnight, we were there to show and explain ikebana.  

We also served some cake to show our appreciation. :-)

Here are the work of Miyako and her students. 

The outside installation was a collaborative effort by Miyako and Val Spencer.  Hemlock greens,  magnolia & willow branches, spray mums and bamboo.  

The big willow branch was actually given to us by a friend last winter.  She said her neighbour's tree had fallen in a storm.  She thought we might like it so she hauled it all the way to our shop.  That was probably a good 3 blocks away!  Thank you Joan!

Left:: "Autumn Happiness" by Patti Vaison.  Patti could not join us on Nocturne so she had prepared her arrangement in advance using dried material: Chinese lantern, cattails and eryngium.  Glass beads on blue glass containers gave calming balance to the vivid orange!

Right: "Paintbrush" by Val Spencer.  Anthurium and hosta stems.  Now, you couldn't have guessed those "sticks" were from hosta, right? :-)  A couple of sheets of square paper underneath may seem inconsequential but they complete the picture.

Left: "Moonlight" by Avril Yu.  Stargazer lilies and alder branches.  Like a bright moonlit night!

Right: "Kabu-Wake" (That's the style of arrangement having 2 "islands" in one moribana container) by Jean Henshall.  Yellow roses and pincushion protea.

Left: Basic upright moribana by Randa Bdeir (L) and Abeer Sabanekh (R).  Pink anastasias, alder branches and eryngium.  The two friends' works had been done separately but came together perfectly as a pair!

Right: "No-Mind" by Miyako.  Dendrobium, yellow mums, grape vine and Japanese rose branches.  For this arrangement, Miyako said she wasn't thinking at all.  Her hands just moved!

Left: "Discord" by Miyako.  Silver Dollars, dried hydrangea and hemlock.   We don't know what the branches are.  We picked them up on the sidewalk after a storm had blown by!  This arrangement went through countless iterations as if there were opposing forces pulling it back and forth. 

Right: "Hope" by Miyako.  Mountain ash branches, Japanese rose hips and craspedia.  It looked like it just crested a steep peak!

Left: "Tall Gladiola" by Sydney Feng.  Gladiola, cattail leaves and pine.  The heavy vertical presence of the gladiola was contrasted by the light sprinkling of pine needles.

Right: "Dawning" by Val Spencer.  Begonias and climbing hydrangea...and meticulously sculptured branches!

We thank everyone who came all the way to Quinpool to visit us...even as the bulk of Nocturne festivities were happening in downtown.  We hope you enjoyed our little exhibit.  Time flew by very quickly!

Thank you to the ikebana students who participated.  We hope you also had an enriching experience.  Everybody loved your work!

A more complete set of Nocturne images can be found on our flickr album.

Bloom Exhibit

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Once again, we are working together with our friends at Argyle Fine Art (1559 Barrington St., Halifax).  This time the exhibit is called Bloom, showcasing the beautiful floral paintings of Twila Robar-DeCoste.  In keeping with the flower theme, Miyako will put up some ikebana arrangements around the exhibit.

BLOOM: New and Recent Works by Twila Robar-DeCoste 
& Ceramics by Emerging Artists brought to life by The Ikebana Shop

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, May 10th, 1:30-3:30pm
At Argyle FIne Art, 1559 Barrington St., Halifax NS

We'll let the Argyle Fine Art press release speak for itself...

(HALIFAX)- Please join Argyle Fine Art in downtown Halifax for an afternoon filled with ART and FUN for the entire family. We’re launching a new body of work by artist Twila Robar-DeCoste in a show entitled BLOOM, which is fitting as all 14 watercolour and acrylic paintings are celebrating local SPRING flowers that we can all hardly wait to poke their heads out of the ground and greet the SUN. Let’s hope for lots of that too, on Saturday, as we’ll also be showcasing a selection of ceramics by emerging artists that will come to life with living floral arrangements by the talented Miyako Ballesteros from The Ikebana Shop. All artists will be in attendance. The show will continue until May 21st at Argyle Fine Art and online once the show has launched.

Twila Robar-DeCoste has exhibited work throughout Atlantic Canada and Ontario, and her art can be found in many corporate and private collections in North America and Europe. Twila was juried and elected to the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA) in May of 2009. Inspired by the beauty and diversity of nature, Twila creates realistic paintings of natural subjects; birds, butterflies, flowers, landscapes and seascapes. Her paintings are created in watercolour, acrylic and ink. Her work is found in many private and corporate collections in North America and Europe. Twila Robar-DeCoste has illustrated numerous books and publications for such clients as N.S Tourism, The Nova Scotia Museum of Natural history, Agriculture Canada, Ducks, Unlimited, Canadian Geographic and the Municipality of the County of Kings to name a few.


All images provided by Argyle Fine Art.

Added May 11th, 2014: 
See photos of  the exhibit.

Thank You, Leonora!

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Our good friend, Leonora, from Ottawa sent us a photograph of her work.  This was her contribution to Momentum, the Ikebana International Ottawa Centennial Chapter 120's exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature

The brittle & dry branches, the smooth & soft leaves, plus the wrinkly and shiny foil.  Three different textures combined into one beautiful piece! 

And the icing on the cake... a sign was displayed beside the work.  A place of honour. Thank you!

The Momentum exhibit is on-going until March 23rd, Sunday at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.  Please visit if you can!

Photos courtesy of Leonara Duffield.