About ANZ Sogetsu Teachers Association Inc.
History of the Brisbane/Gold Coast Branch
In 2003 the Brisbane/Gold Coast Branch compiled a book “Under the Grass Moon” to commemorate forty years of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana in Queensland. The
dedication of this book was:
“For Norman James Sparnon O.A.M. Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays 1913 – 1995. Our lives have been enriched by Sogetsu Ikebana. Thanks to his many years teaching in Australia”
Dorothy Edwards, who is a current member living in Northern New South Wales, played an important role in the introduction of Sogetsu Ikebana to our area. In 1959
she contacted Norman Sparnon after reading about him in a magazine. As a result of this Norman began giving Sogetsu Ikebana lessons to students in Lismore in
January 1961. Dorothy commenced teaching in 1966, thus becoming the very first practising teacher of this branch.
On 13 November 1962, a demonstration of Sogetsu Ikebana was given by Mrs. Ayako Yamanaka and Mrs. Tomi Yoshida in Brisbane. Following this, Norman Sparnon began
giving lessons in the Sogetsu School style of ikebana in September 1963 in Brisbane. Of our current members, Nora Dyer and Joy Lane were present at that first
lesson. Norman Sparnon continued to travel to Northern New South Wales and South-East Queensland to teach until 1993. He visited for each annual exhibition in
Brisbane until then, as well as at other times.
Mary Brown was among the students at Norman Sparnon’s first class in Brisbane. She was the first of his Queensland students to begin teaching. She continued to
teach from 1968 until her death in January 2009.
In 1967 Iemoto Sofu Teshigahara visited Brisbane for the Ikebana International Regional Conference. He donated two beautiful copper shim sculptures to the
Queensland Art Gallery.
In May 1974 Kasumi Teshigahara, Sofu’s daughter, visited Brisbane and conducted workshops. In October that year the Sogetsu Exhibition was held for the first time
in the Auditorium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt. Coot-tha. The Brisbane/Gold Coast Branch still holds annual exhibitions at this venue.
Norman Sparnon commenced teaching Sogetsu Ikebana in Melbourne in 1960 and from that time until 1979 the Sogetsu School in Australia was administered by Norman
Sparnon’s wife Mary from their home in Sydney. Branches became autonomous in 1979.
Following a meeting in 1978 to set up the Branch, the first Annual General Meeting of the Australian Sogetsu Teachers Association Brisbane/Gold Coast Branch was
held on 9 April 1979 at the home of Mrs. Marjorie Taylor who had been elected first Director (President). Nora Dyer was a member of the committee from this time
Hiroshi Teshigahara was the visiting Iemoto for the Ikebana International Conference held at the Gold Coast in September 1985. The Brisbane/Gold Coast Branch was
given two of the large iron containers and the kenzans he used on the stage in his demonstration.
Members exhibited at David Jones Department Store in Brisbane from 1986 until 2003.
In November 1987 the 60th anniversary of the Sogetsu School was celebrated at the Gold Coast with a demonstration by Seiseki Umemura and Norman Sparnon of Sydney.
A lunch and exhibition were part of the celebrations. Seiseki Umemura has continued to be a regular visitor to the Brisbane/Gold Coast Branch to conduct
From March 1988, according to a directive from Sogetsu Headquarters, all Branches of the Sogetsu Teachers Association in Australia should be autonomous.
(Previously they were branches of the Australian Sogetsu Teachers Association.) The certificate of incorporation for “The Australian Sogetsu Teachers’ Association
(Brisbane/Gold Coast) Inc.” was received.
During World Expo 88 in Brisbane many Sogetsu members gave demonstrations. Nineteen members exhibited at the Queensland Art Gallery during the exhibition of
Japanese ceramics from the Idemitsu Art Gallery of Japan.
In April 1989 Norman Sparnon’s wife Mary died in Sydney. She had always accompanied Norman on his visits.
A request was received from the Queensland Government for this Branch to participate in the Queensland Fine Art Exhibition at the Garden and Greenery Expo that
was held in Osaka, Japan in June 1990.As Director of the Branch at the time, Nora Dyer accepted this commission to create ikebana installations with a Queensland
theme. Lily Karmatz, was invited to North Carolina by the Town of Cary for the Public Art Festival in April 2008. She created outdoor ikebana installations and
conducted workshops for seniors and children.
As a result of Nora Dyer’s negotiations with Queensland Art Gallery authorities, in November 1993 this Branch began its association with the Gallery, where every
week one of the members provides an ikebana arrangement. This still continues.
Norman Sparnon died in June 1995. In July a thanksgiving service for his life, was held in the Japanese Garden at Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt. Coot-tha. In May
1996 Takashi Suzuki, a Master Instructor from Japan, visited Brisbane where he unveiled a plaque and planted two camellia bushes in this garden in memory of
Norman Sparnon. He conducted workshops in Brisbane and at the Gold Coast.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Sogetsu School in Japan an exhibition, “Living Culture” was held for the period of one month at the
Queensland Art Gallery in 1997.
Apart from Takashi Suzuki, other Master Instructors from Japan who have visited this Branch are Ken Katayama, Toshiyuki Ohki, Tetsunori Kawana and Yoka Hosono.
In 2002 the name of our Branch was changed to “Sogetsu Ikebana Association Brisbane/Gold Coast Inc.”
To celebrate forty years of Sogetsu Ikebana in Queensland, Nora Dyer suggested that the Branch should produce a book. After many months of hard work “Under the
Grass Moon” was published.
In 2009 a website for the Branch was set up – www.ikebanabrisbane.org.au
Compiled by Judith McCulloch, April 2009