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 Post subject: Profile: Farrand Bloch
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 7:03 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:35 pm
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Location: The Art of Bonsai Project
Profile: Farrand Bloch
Farrand Bloch at the 81st Kokofu-Ten

Farrand Bloch was born in 1965, his interest in Japanese Zen gardens eventually evolved into bonsai and his later studies under Hotsumi terakawa, Yuji Yoshimura and Suchin Ee. Farrand later traveled to Japan and followed workshops at Shigeo Kuroso's bonsai garden near Omiya.

In 1993 opened his studio garden in Voorschoten holland called Sozo bonsai studio and he begun a long journey of giving demonstrations and workshops. Farrand was one of the demonstrators during BCI in 1998 in Puerto Rico and he was a demonstrator in 1997 at Long Island Mid Atlantic event USA.

He later ended up taking over the former Dutch magazine and together with Rene Rooswinkel, his "partner in crime" he managed to make the magazine grow and later merged with British Bonsai magazine in 2000. The first French edition started in may 2002, a German edition came in May of 2003 and the Italian edition came in 2006.

Bonsai Europe quickly became one of the most respected bonsai publications in the world and Farrand acted as editor throughout its growth. The recent merge with Bonsai Today and the complete overhaul of the magazine, including the name change to Bonsai Focus is the end of one era and the start of another. With Farrand at the helm, it is sure to be an exciting journey.

Farrand's Bonsai creations featured below are described by Farrand as lead, iron and burned wood set together with junipers. Inspired by the harsh conditions in the mountains and the polution and destruction of man. The junipers, adapt very well in harch conditions, they represent live, which will always continue.
Bonsai Focus magazine can be seen at

The following is an on-line interview with Farrand Bloch

AoB: Farrand, your bonsai creations are unconventional and special. Do you have an educational background in art?

Farrand: No not specific, I did some art classes after my high school period. But I always had some interest in art, architecture and design. I had the wish to become architect one day when I was still in school.

AoB: What is your history with bonsai? When did you start and how? Who were your teachers?

Farrand: I started right from the beginning at Hotsumi Terakawa's bonsai studio in Holland. Then I decided I wanted to go to Japan and study bonsai so I would be able to become a bonsai master myself. I managed to get a contact in Japan and learned a lot from Shigeo Kuroso who has his bonsai studio in Omiya. Back in Holland I quit my job and started my own bonsai studio.

AoB: We understand you became chief editor of the Dutch bonsai magazine in 1998. How was bonsai doing in the Netherlands during those years?

Farrand: The bonsai scene in Holland was doing quite well for such a small country that has no natural resources for yamadori. Many talented bonsai artist worked on old garden trees, maybe not the best material but they managed to make the most out of it. This kind of material is not easy and forces them to be very creative. It resulted in some stunning trees. Here in Holland, Marc Noelanders was and still is for many, the big example because he managed to make real classical bonsai with impossible garden material no one would normally touch.

Today the focus lies on quality trees, less spectacular but very steady it is moving to a higher level. It was never my intention to become an editor of a bonsai magazine, but I wrote some articles and just bought a camera and some flashlights for making pictures of my own bonsai. By that time the magazine was just a small thing which we did a-side the bonsai nursery. Slowly it became more time consuming and I was confronted with a major choice. The bonsai nursery or the magazine, I chose to give all my time to the magazine.

AoB: After the English and Dutch magazines joined you took over the responsibility as chief editor for the new "Bonsai Europe." There has been a lot of progression since then in the bonsai world. What are the biggest changes in your eyes?

Farrand: The quality of available material has increased, yamadori has become the standard. Displaying Bonsai is now very important. Just like in Japan, bonsai artists in Europe style trees for their customers who bring them to shows like the bi-annual Ginkgo Award Show in Belgium, the Italian UBI show and the Ni-Shun Ten show in Germany. This is a very important development. It will give new talent a reason to seriously invest in knowledge and become professionals in bonsai. Not everybody is a brilliant bonsai artist, so they let the talented artists do the job for them to get the best out of their bonsai material. Maybe bonsai has become more commercial as some would say, but I think it can't go without it.

A Farrand Bloch creation with common juniper planted on iron figure, height: 87cm

AoB: Bonsai Europe has made some remarkable progress over the years, what do you believe is the main reasons for its success?

Farrand: Hard work and even more hard work. It sometimes surprises me even, that it has become such a success, but I think one of the reasons is that Bonsai in Europe has made such progress. We just recorded that. The format is another. We chose to combine Western approach and Japanese skills in all levels.

AoB: You have an excellent team to work with. What are the biggest challenges you are facing in editing a multicultural magazine?

Farrand: The biggest challenges are to deal with the 5 different languages, the cultural differences in each separate country and the various climate zones.

AoB: What can we expect from Bonsai Europe over the next few years?

Farrand: We will continue with our aim to cover all what is bonsai as good as we can. And the Internet will become a very important item for the magazine.

A Farrand Bloch creation with Juniper ridida on burned wood.

AoB: Many other bonsai magazines have said that obtaining quality articles coupled with excellent photography and regionally focused is difficult. Do you also find this to be true and how do you overcome this?

Farrand: I agree it is very difficult. Good articles and good photography are important but costly. You have to be very crazy or passionate to do this magazine. A regular publishing cooperation would not be interested to do a magazine as we do.

AoB: What advice would you give aspiring authors who wish to be published in Bonsai Europe?

Farrand: That's a difficult question, if you like to write and know how to tell a good story you are already halfway.

Good pictures are essential. But to be honest I rather have new talented bonsai artists knocking at our door. After a selection procedure we can invite them to do a Photo-shoot in our studio, so they can concentrate on what they are best in: bonsai.

AoB: What do you feel are the best things currently happening in the bonsai community? The worst?

Farrand: There is a lot of new talent lurking, and the material availability is getting better and better.
There is however not much originality, it looks like everybody is doing the same thing. We need some more dare devils who want innovate.

AoB: Is there a tendency in Europe to discard the traditional Japanese 3-point formal display, and try to find new forms of expression?

Farrand: Sometimes you see some original ideas, but I think we are still learning to appreciate that bonsai can be better appreciated when properly displayed. I have seen some very new ideas in Germany on shows with bonsai set in front of abstract paintings.

A Farrand Bloch creation with a Juniperus sabina planted on a lead slab, iron wire holds the creation in position, height 55cm.

AoB: According to many individual opinions from bonsai practitioners here in the US, European bonsai has shown the most exiting progress among all countries in the last few years. What are your thoughts on that?

Farrand: Yes I agree, in Europe and especially in Italy the level is quite high. There is a lot of ambition right at the surface. In the US the situation is different, I think there is a lot of talent but it is more hidden. I hope to bring that into the spotlight now that we have merged with Bonsai Today.

AoB: What are the things we should do, in order to make bonsai more popular and accessible among young people?

Farrand: I am already amazed by the serious amount of young people showing so much interest in bonsai. Some even show ambition to do bonsai as a full time job, this should be stimulated. Teaching bonsai at schools, or universities will attract young people to bonsai.

AoB: What are some of the most exciting innovations you have seen over the last couple of years?

Farrand: Well the amazing jumps from garden material to yamadori becoming the standard. The dedication of the so called regular bonsai enthusiast who is so willing to have a fine bonsai collection in his or her garden. Bonsai as a hobby is been taken more serious now, the many garden visits I did, show this immense change. The display of bonsai has become a whole new trend.

AoB: Bonsai, art or craft? This debate has raged on the Internet for the last few years, while we at the Art of Bonsai project fully support bonsai as an art form, there are others who do not. What is your feeling on this question?

Farrand: I personally think it is not so important if it is art or not, what is art anyway? in some cases, However, I think, bonsai can become true art when it is of such high standard or so refreshing of approach.

Farrand Bloch at the Daikan-Ten in 2005

AoB: AoB broke the story recently that Bonsai Europe had either purchased or merged with Bonsai Today magazine, what could you tell us about this historic event?

Farrand: Yes, it's all over the Internet now. Bonsai Europe and Bonsai Today merged together to become the new Bonsai Focus magazine. It all happened very fast and unexpectedly, it's a whole new adventure for us. Our aim is to cover all what is bonsai, Japanese and Western bonsai, in one quality magazine. I am aware that I have a responsibility to the good reputation of Bonsai Today magazine. It has been there for a long time and has been the benchmark of bonsai magazines.

AoB: Bonsai Today magazine has been a part of the American Bonsai community for many years, is there any plans for continuing the publication under the same name or will it disappear forever?

Farrand: It will merge into the new magazine Bonsai Focus. After some restless nights we decided that it was time for a new name and a fresh start. Times have changed, the Internet, the huge development in the quality of Western bonsai and off course the globalization, even in bonsai, stimulates us to even improve the quality of the new magazine.

AoB: Can you tell us the plans Bonsai Europe now has to fill what will be an obvious void in American Bonsai literature?

Farrand: I am already in contact with some American bonsai artists and we are making plans for reports and Photo-shoots in the US. It's a challenge to incorporate the Americans as well.

AoB: What are the goals for this new magazine?

Farrand: My personal goal is to create a quality magazine that will satisfy all needs expected from a bonsai magazine. I very much look forward to work with our team of European, American, and Japanese authors to make a smashing magazine.

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