KJ and I have discussed for a while if we should sell a part of our collection of stones, stand and the like. After much discussion, a site was built to do just that.
The commerce website contains some fine suiseki from Japan and viewing stones from the United States and China. A number of bonsai pots, dobans and suibans are available; primarily sourced from Japan but also elsewhere.
Stands, which seem to be hard to find these days, are also available in different shapes and sizes; most are from Japan and were imported many years ago.
Check out the bronze given to us from Mr. Saburo Kato’s family shortly after his death. This would be a wonderful display piece with either a stone or tree.
There are also a number of books; primarily bonsai books with a few suiseki catalogs. Lastly, there are about 60 deep sky photos that can be printed from ~12 inches to as large as 60 inches. If you have interest in the photos, just email us and we can discuss sizes and finishes. Our home as M42, the Great Orion Nebula, hanging above our fireplace. It was printed 52-inches square on canvas.
We attempt to ship within 24 hours of an order. International orders can not be competed directly from the website. Just email us with the SKU number and we can make arrangements to ship things to you.
Feel free to browse and we thank you for doing so!
Lastly, if you would like for us to help you sell something similar to what we have listed, just reach out to us and we can discuss…
Before I begin, please take a few minutes to read this true story as documented in the Book The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson (c) 2009.
“Gillian was only eight years old, but her future was already at risk. Her schoolwork was a disaster, at least as far as her teachers were concerned. She turned in assignments late, her handwriting was terrible, and she tested poorly. Not only that, she was a disruption to the entire class, one minute fidgeting noisily, the next staring out the window, forcing the teacher to stop the class to pull Gillian’s attention back, and the next doing something to disturb the other children around her. Gillian wasn’t particularly concerned about any of this—she was used to being corrected by authority figures and really didn’t see herself as a difficult child—but the school was very concerned. This came to a head when the school wrote to her parents.
The school thought that Gillian had a learning disorder of
some sort and that it might be more appropriate for her to be in a school for
children with special needs. All of this took place in the 1930s I think now
they’d say she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and they’d put her
on Ritalin or something similar. But the
ADHD epidemic hadn’t been invented at the time. It wasn’t an available condition.
People didn’t know they could have that and had to get by without it.
Gillian’s parents received the letter from the school with
great concern and sprang to action.
Gillian’s mother put her daughter in her best dress and shoes, tied her
hair in ponytails, and took her to a psychologist for assessment, fearing the
Gillian told me that she remembers being invited into a
large oak-paneled room with leather-bound books on the shelves. Standing in the
room next to a large desk was an imposing man in a tweed jacket. He took Gillian to the far end of the room
and sat her down on a huge leather sofa. Gillian’s feet didn’t quite touch the floor,
and the setting made her wary. Nervous about the impression she would make, she
sat on her hands so that she wouldn’t fidget.
The psychologist went back to his desk, and for the next
twenty minutes, he asked Gillian’s mother about the difficulties Gillian was
having at school and the problems the school said she was causing. While he didn’t direct any of his questions
at Gillian, he watched her carefully the entire time. This made Gillian extremely uneasy and
confused. Even at this tender age, she knew that this man would have a significant
role in her life. She knew what it meant
to attend a “special school,” and she didn’t want anything to do with that. She
genuinely didn’t feel that she had any real problems, but everyone else seemed
to believe she did. Given the way her mother
answered the questions, it was possible that even she felt this way.
Maybe, Gillian thought, they were right.
Eventually, Gillian’s mother and the psychologist stopped
talking. The man rose from his desk, walked to the sofa, and sat next to the little
“Gillian, you’ve been very patient, and I thank you for
that,” he said. “But I’m afraid you’ll have to be patient for a little
longer. I need to speak to your mother privately
now. We’re going to go out of the room for a few minutes. Don’t worry; we won’t
be very long.
Gillian nodded apprehensively, and the two adults left her
sitting there on her own. But as he was leaving the room, the psychologist leaned
across his desk and turned on the radio.
As soon as they were in the corridor outside the room, the
doctor said to Gillian’s mother, “Just stand her for a moment, and watch what
she does.” There was a window into the room and they stood to one side of it,
where Gillian couldn’t see them. Nearly immediately, Gillian was on her feet,
moving around the room to the music. The
two adults stood watching quietly for a few minutes, transfixed by the girl’s
grace. Anyone would have noticed there
was something natural—event primal—about Gillian’s movements. Just as they would have surely caught
the expression of utter pleasure on her face.
At last, the psychologist turned to Gillian’s mother and
said, “You know, Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer. Take her to a
I asked Gillian what happened then. She said her mother did exactly what the
psychologist suggested. “I can’t tell
you how wonderful it was,” she told me. “I walked into this room, and it was
full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People
who had to move to think.”
She started going to dance school every week, and she
practiced at home every day. Eventually,
she auditioned for the Royal Ballet School in London, and they accepted
her. She went on to join the Royal Ballet
Company itself, becoming a soloist and performing all over the world. When that
part of her career ended, she formed her own musical theater company and
produced a series of highly successful shows in London and New York.
Eventually, she met Andrew Lloyd Webber and created with him some of the most
successful musical theater productions in history, including Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.
Little Gillian, the girl with the high-risk future, became known to the world as Gillian Lynne, one of the most accomplished choreographers of our time, someone who has brought pleasure to millions and earned millions of dollars. This happened because someone looked deep into her eyes—someone who had seen children like her before and knew how to read the signs. Someone else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down. But Gillian wasn’t a problem child. She didn’t need to go away to a special school.”
She just needed to be who she really was.”
A Few Thoughts
You might ask, what has this to do in a blog focusing on suiseki? A good question, so let me spend a few moments explaining why.
I’ve been busy at work for more than two years researching how to “view” suiseki stones. It has been a passion that has taken a great deal of my free time. I have read hundreds of papers, research articles, and books on aesthetic with a special focus on Japanese aesthetic. Through this process a discovery was made, for me at least, that there is no true universal definition of aesthetic between cultures and often even between similar groups of people.
Most aesthetics focus on the concept of beauty, however, even in this definition beauty can be defined in so many ways. What I have discovered is that most aestheticians link beauty with truth. Rising early to watch the sun break brilliantly across distant mountain tops, standing in the late afternoon on the rocky shores of the ocean seeing and hearing the waves break below, or watching the inherent beauty in a small child asleep and at peace. There is not only beauty but real truth in these scenes.
At some future point, it is my hope that all of this research will be gathered and focused into a book that will help its readers to begin to define their own aesthetic regardless of the artistic outlet be it stones, painting, or something.
Returning to the story of Gillian, one can only imagine the loss to the world had the doctor not intervened to declare there was nothing wrong with Gillian – she is just a dancer. How many artist, dancers, writers, photographers, comedians have been lost to the world simply because they were viewed as different? And tragically so, treated as if they were broken.
Let’s juxtapose for a moment ourselves into the world of suiseki for a moment. How often have we stood before a beautiful stone asking someone what they see and before they can even respond we admonish them in what we see in it. If you take note, you might see a small frown appear on the other person’s face?
How often do we see people courageously describe what they see in the stone for the “expert” to immediately bark at them that what they are seeing is wrong that it is not “A” but their viewpoint “B.” How many new participants in our art form have we driven away because we haven’t allowed them to participate and for them to have an opportunity to express what they see!
It reminds me of when Masahiko Kimura created this now famous bonsai.
Upon its initial release, this was frowned upon by the bonsai world. It wasn’t bonsai; it didn’t follow the accepted practices of the time. Surely there were other forest plantings, but they were in a pot, or slab, that was horizontal to the ground. This design broke the conventional rules!
Over time it became recognized as a master work of design. Expressive, beautiful and now often mimicked by others.
Anytime there is a major change in an art style such as realism to impressionism the holders of the standard fight to maintain that hold and thus feel inclined to reject the new.
I caution each of us to allow others to see what they see. Attempt to understand what they are expressing through either their display or their interpretations. As relayed in the earlier story: “…But Gillian wasn’t a problem child. She didn’t need to go away to a special school. She just needed to be who she really was.”
In the same way, who knows, the very person who seems to be breaking the rules today may very well be creating a new form of art tomorrow.
“Su Shi (simplified Chinese: 苏轼; traditional Chinese: 蘇軾) (8 January 1037 – 24 August 1101), courtesy name Zizhan, (Chinese: 子瞻), art name Dongpo, was a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and a statesman of the Song dynasty.”
Su Shi was born into a literary family in 1037. At the age of 19 he passed the highest-level civil service examinations with flying colors, and was marked out as a rising star within the world of officialdom. His lucid, eloquent essays greatly impressed Emperor Renzong (1010-1063) and by the time the young Emperor Shenzong (1048-1085) ascended to the throne in 1067, Su Shi was a respected figure among scholar-officials at court.
‘During the Song dynasty, a period of unsurpassed refinement in the arts in China, Su Shi had a brilliant and staggeringly varied career,’ explains art critic Alastair Sooke. A poet, politician, writer, calligrapher, painter and aesthetic theorist, Su Shi was the pre-eminent scholar of the Song dynasty. ‘He was so prolific in so many different fields that it is very tempting to think of him as a proto-Renaissance man,’ says Sooke, ‘even though he was born four centuries before Leonardo.’
“Su Shi was exiled to provincial Huangzhou, where he lived in relative poverty. He built a farm in the foothills of what became known as the Eastern Slope (Dongpo), and began to call himself Master of the Eastern Slope (Su Dongpo). For all the hardships he experienced in exile, it was during this period that he produced some of his most well-known verses.”
“Today, Su Shi is recognized as one of the eight great prose masters of the Tang and Song, and one of the four Song masters of calligraphy. His poems, including At Red Cliff, Cherishing the Past and Prelude to the Water Melody, have become embedded in Chinese culture, inspiring landscape paintings and poetic illustrations throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. His calligraphy has been copied, studied and collected for centuries.
Note: The movie Red Cliff by Director Johnathan Woo is in our top 10 movies of all time. It is a two-part, four and one-half hours film. Everything about this film is stellar. From the story-line, casting, music and production. We cannot more highly recommend this film. Click here if you want to purchase a copy. Be sure to purchase the International version as the US version, as seen on Netflix, is a cut down 2 hour version that ruins the film frankly.
Su Shi’s ideas on what it was to create an image, and the relationship of the image to the internal psychology of the painter, were revolutionary, and can be seen as a launchpad for painting as a non-representational, psychologically driven process. It was Su Shi who first began to explore concepts of artistic practice as the outward expression of the artist’s interior experience.”
“Similarly revolutionary was Su Shi’s approach to brushwork. Other contemporary painters pursued a representational style that involved great detail and strong delineation. But Su Shi’s brushwork is impressionistic and spare. Writing on the principles by which to judge the highest class of painting, Su Shi once declared, ‘If one discusses painting in terms of formal likeness, one is no different from a child.’ For him, there was painting in poetry and poetry in painting.”
‘There is a saying in Chinese art history that “ink has five colors”,’ says Zhou. ‘Ink has all that you need to depict the external world and to express yourself and whatever your artistic impulses have to say. Wood and Rock is a true embodiment of the artist’s state of mind at the time, which you can see so palpably in the painting.’
Note: Similarly, English painter Lawerence Stephen Lowry, born in 1887, used only a five color pallet for his paintings. His use of ivory black, vermilion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and flake white.
“Wood and Rock is inscribed with the poetry of Su Shi’s friend Mi Fu (1051-1107), which was probably added at a later date. Like Su Shi, Mi Fu was a celebrated poet, calligrapher, painter and statesman. For Su Shi, expressing affinity through the giving and exchanging of painting and verse in the form of calligraphy was a means of building networks of cultural capital.
The ink traces on this scroll offer insights into abstracted ideas of how Su Shi and Mi Fu thought and conceived of art, but also illuminate how these exceptional men of the 11th century understood each other. They are, therefore, tangible representations of the relationships between cultural giants of the distant past.
Mi Fu’s verse on the scroll interprets his friend’s painting of a withered tree as an intimate expression of oneself at an old age. The pathos in Mi Fu’s lament certainly resonates with what is known of Su Shi’s experiences in exile. In Mi Fu’s other writings, he speaks of how Su Shi condensed his emotions in the turns of his brush and the construction of his rocks and trees.”
This 1,000 year old scroll was recently auctioned at Christie’s in Hong Kong. It sold for HK$ 463,600,000 or approximately $59 million USD.