Last weekend the city of Genk, Belgium, hosted the 18th Noelanders Trophy. This year’s event was paired with the European Bonsai Association exhibit making for a huge, 200+ display event. It was my first time visiting the Noelanders Trophy so I was very excited to see it in person.
Visitors at the 2017 Noelanders Trophy
Noelanders Trophy awards
I was on hand to take photos for International Bonsai Magazine. I don’t know when the photos will be ready, but I expect they’ll be in print later this year or early next. In the meantime, you can see some of the winning entries at Bonsai Empire.
For an idea of the scope of the exhibit, here’s the floor plan for the exhibit.
Noelanders Trophy/EBA exhibit floor plan
The Noelanders has become popular over the years not just for its exhibit, but for its huge vendor hall. This year 80 traders were on hand with more beautiful trees and pots than I could count, but I’ll say more about the vendors next week.
Across the hall from the exhibit and vendor area was a large demonstration room. In the morning, an EBA hosted a new talent competition featuring novice practitioners from all over Europe. In the afternoon, the room featured demonstrations.
New Talent competition
Wiring a shimpaku for the competition
This year’s demonstrating headliners were Mitsuo Matsuda and Daisaku Nomoto from Japan, Salvatore Liporace from Italy, and David Benavente from Spain. The trees they worked on included an imported yew from Japan, an Austrian black pine, a Scots pine, and a mugo pine.
Saturday demo material
I got a firsthand view of the Saturday demonstrations as I served as translator and occasional helper for Mitsuo Matsuda and Daisaku Nomoto.
The demo underway
Salvatore Liporace and two helpers worked on a mugo pine with lots of movement. They spend Saturday working on the deadwood and returned Sunday to complete the wiring.
Mugo pine after deadwood cleanup
David Benavente worked on a Japanese yew which had been imported into Europe just a few weeks prior to the event.
It was a lot of fun to see David’s work up close. He worked quietly and consistently through the event and finished the basic wiring just as the demo wrapped up.
Japanese yew – styling complete
Daisaku Nomoto worked on an Austrian black pine. As he noted at the start of the event, he’d never worked on the variety before, but he knows pines, how to wire, and how to find the front of a tree. By the end of the demo, he was a bit more familiar with the variety.
Austrian black pine
Austrian black pine – styling complete
Mitsuo Matsuda worked on a collected Scots pine – by far the most challenging material on stage.
The colorful wrapping on the trunk and branches is a combination of rags and napkins used to moisten the bark and wood to facilitate bending during the demonstration. Once the demo started, Matsuda got to work by using a large rachet to bend the trunk.
Bending the trunk
Nomoto and Matsuda wiring their pines
Once Nomoto finished his pine, he jumped over to help Matsuda finish his. Together, they were just able to complete the basic wiring.
Here’s Matsuda next to the tree for scale.
Mitsuo Matsuda and Scots pine
Matsuda and Nomoto after the demo
Next up – a report from the trading area at the 2017 Noelanders Trophy.
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