Norman James Sparnon OAM (1913-1995)
Ikebana MasterNorman Sparnon was born in Melbourne and is remembered there by a plaque in Jells Park, Glen Waverley, where he planted a tree in 1984 to celebrate 25 years of Ikebana International in Australia. As a young man he became absorbed by the learning of written and spoken Japanese and following his service as an Army Major during World War 2, he went to Japan to serve in peace time redevelopment, eventually living there from 1945 to 1958.
One day he went along to an Ikebana class his wife Mary was attending, to act as an interpreter, and became hooked on all aspects of Japanese floral art. "I was captured by the art right from the beginning. I felt I'd found something that matched up with my personality" he recalled later at the launch of one of his books. On return to Australia he lived in the Sydney suburb of Darling Point where he had a studio and ran an Ikebana school in the 1960's and 1970's , teaching both the classical Ikenobo and modern Sogetsu styles of the art. For Norman it was always far more than just flower arranging,"You become so very close to nature and understanding it." he said.
These days his timeless books are fetching high prices and his last from 1970 The Poetry of Leaves sells for about $250.00. Trouble is you may just have to go to New York City to buy a copy, such is his influence outside this country.
His first book from 1960
The illustrations below are of his use of camellias. In 1968 he wrote a book called The Magic of Camellias with E G Waterhouse
Modern 'moribana' arrangement of quince and camellia
Window arrangement with camellia and fasciated willow
Red-lacquer plate with lichen covered pine and camellia
Shoka arrangement of Ikenobo School
Single flower 'Ichirin' with incense burner
Nagiere arrangement of quince and camellia
by Sofu Teshigahara founder of the Sogetsu School
Pine and camellia in 'shin' arrangement
'tsubaki' = Camellia japonica
'to-tsubaki' = Camellia reticulata
'sazanka' = Camellia sasanqua
To prevent camellia flowers from falling in an arrangement, apply damp salt to the base of the stamens by means of a match.