In the run-up to this fall’s Pacific Bonsai Expo, I’ve been thinking a lot about evaluating bonsai. We’re working on a scoring system for the Expo judging panel and wanted to give everyone who’s interested a chance to test the approach out.
For sample trees, I’ve selected images from the 94th Kokufu Exhibition held in 2020.
This week I’ll provide a link to twelve conifers and twelve deciduous bonsai. Next week I’ll send a link to multi-point displays in the medium and shohin categories.
Your job, if you’re up to it, is to assign a score for each tree. I’ll share the results in a few weeks.
What goes into a score?
I wrote about evaluating conifers and deciduous bonsai earlier this year (see “Conifers vs. deciduous bonsai: evaluating different species“). What I didn’t mention were thoughts on assigning specific scores.
On a five point score, do trees of average quality get a score of 3 or 2 (or 1)? The former is good for grouping the exhibit into equivalent tiers of quality while the latter is good for identifying the very best trees in the show.
For the present exercise – an opportunity to evaluate trees on display at Kokufu – you can use whichever approach works best for you.
Members of the judging panel at the 2009 Bay Island Bonsai exhibit
For those looking for concrete starting points related to evaluating bonsai, see the “Artisans Cup judging rubric.”
For everyone else, put on your bonsai evaluation cap and head to the Kokufu 94 Scoring Exercise.
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