President Report – AGM 2022
2022 was a very busy year for the AABC as it co-hosted the 9th World Bonsai Convention (WBC). This was a groundbreaking event as we had to transition from a COVID postponed physical event into a virtual on line convention. I would like to thank an AABC member for the suggestion to consider an on-line convention when it appeared that a physical convention would not be likely given restrictions from the COVID pandemic. I also thank everyone who registered to attend, those who entered photos of their bonsai as well as suiseki and the clubs that donated auction items.
The 9th WBC team was made up of several AABC Board members, local BSWA club members and other experts in the fields of IT. Of course this was overseen by Lindsay Bebb, now the Chairman Emeritus of WBFF who put in many hours of planning, editing and liaising with the WBFF regional demonstrators. The 9th WBC was a financial success and we were pleased with the result, as it was something none of us had had previous experience with.
Brief Report on WBC
The 9th World Bonsai Convention, ‘Doornjil Yoordaniny – Coming Together’ was held as a virtual on-line event from 8-16 October 2022 with 570 delegates. The Convention was co-hosted by the Australia-New Zealand Bonsai Federation (ANZBFF), in partnership with the World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF), and in association with the AABC and the Bonsai Society of Western Australia Inc.
International demonstrators as well as Tony Bebb from Australia presented at the Convention. They represented the nine diverse WBFF regions across the globe. Two of the demonstrators held live interactive sessions after their presentations. The demonstrations were pre-recorded and most were in English. The big plus was the close up filming of the various tasks being undertaken – something not possible in a hall or large auditorium. The demonstrators worked on a variety of local and well known international tree species. Tony Bebb’s choice to style a Melaleuca forest was both inspiring and educational and the finished product was magnificent. The local team enjoyed the experience of putting the group together and filming. The convention provided many additional features normally seen at a regular AABC convention – including an online auction of 65 items. Extra video presentations were also screened on suiseki, pottery, ikebana and carving. A virtual tour of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia (NBPCA) as well as a more detailed coverage of trees from the NBPCA was also screened. Photographic exhibitions of suiseki and bonsai in Australia and New Zealand collections were also provided, which highlighted our native flora in bonsai form and styling.
As well as being screened at scheduled times the presentations were available to revisit as many time as desired for the duration of the convention and for two weeks afterwards.
However, I was disappointed that from many of our bonsai clubs members did not register and join in, as with more support this could have been a very good fundraiser for AABC, with at least $30 profit for every extra person registered. Also it was disappointing that some clubs did not actively promote the WBC to their members nor provide an auction prize. But it was great to see familiar names and faces and the wider bonsai community participating in the commentary.
While the final financial reconciliation is still being undertaken, we expect to receive a share of the funds raised, which we estimate to be about the same as past conventions held in 2018 and 2019. The hosting of the WBC was shared between AABC, BSWA and WBFF so each organisation will receive funds to be used to promote bonsai and assist in the education of club members.
While the considerable effort to organise the WBC was happening the AABC also had to develop a new website to replace our old site which was at the end of its life. We also took the opportunity to establish a new domain name – bonsaiclubsaustralia.org.au which better reflected to the public and also to our own members who/what we are. The public has access to some information with specific information on our VTP and AABC polices and forms in a restricted ‘Members’ area, which club secretaries, their club AABC delegates and our Visiting Tutors can access. Due to privacy legislation we no longer have access to the passwords required but the website has a ‘forgotten password’ feature to enable access to be reinstated. It did take longer than expected and it will need input of photos and events and updates from the clubs to keep it up to date.
In relation to clubs being able to engage international demonstrators for events they may wish to hold, and for international demonstrators for our annual National Bonsai Conventions, we are researching the possibility of the AABC applying to the Department of Immigration to be able to obtain a visa that can be used to allow international demonstrators to come to Australia for educational purposes. This will overcome the current way we arrange for such people to visit us especially as international demonstrators are usually paid.
A few clubs received Federal Government Community Volunteer Grants that have been used to subsidise fees for tutors and to obtain new equipment. I encourage all clubs to investigate these grants through their local parliamentary members and the AABC will continue to alert member clubs of grants they may wish to follow up.
Each year the Japanese Foreign Minister awards about 50 Commendations globally to groups with relevance to Japan. The BSWA is congratulated for being one of two Australian organisations that received a Commendation in August 2022. Their’s was received for promoting Japanese culture and was submitted by the Perth Consul-General. I also commend our many clubs for promoting the art of bonsai with shows, exhibitions, and television features.
It is wonderful to hear of members gaining recognition for their long term volunteering. Congratulations go to John Marsh from the Nepean Bonsai Society who after 50 years involvement in bonsai was recognised as a New South Wales Volunteer of the Year. John is also a Mentor for our visiting tutors. John Di Vincenzo from BSWA was awarded the John Pascoe Horticultural Council Gold medal for over 25 years of commitment to horticulture (bonsai). Maybe your club has eligible members that could be recognised for nominations?
On a sadder note I record the passing of former AABC Board members, Joe Misfud (AABC Secretary and AABC delegate from Canberra Bonsai Society) and Lee Wilson inaugural AABC President and VTP Mentor.
While the COVID pandemic curtailed many VTP events these are now beginning to happen again. We welcomed David Nassar from Victoria as a new tutor on the National Demonstrators Register recently but were sorry to see Chris Xepapas from Tasmania submit his resignation after many years of contribution to the programme. Clubs are asked to look at their members and consider whether they have a member or members who would be suitable for nomination to become a visiting tutor. We need a large pool of people with expertise to assist educating our growing bonsai community. The VTs meet via zoom on occasion throughout the year with AABC Executive.
I would like to thank those clubs that send us their newsletters. This assists the AABC executive to keep up to date with bonsai happenings across Australia. We encourage other clubs to also consider doing likewise.
In conclusion, I hope many of you will make the effort to journey to Perth for the 35th National Bonsai Convention – “Back Together” from 19-22 May 2023. On display will be the WBC Tony Bebb Team Perth demonstration forest. Please ensure that club members know what happens at these conventions and the value and rewards they will get by attending and supporting the AABC. There is an option for a live stream of the demonstrations on stage for those unable to attend in person.
As a further inducement, the first 30+ registrations from outside WA will be given a small WA suiseki in a hand made diaza crafted by Nigel Atkinson. Nigel is recognised for having the first suiseki from Australia displayed at Kokofu-ten in 2020 and 2022.
Going forward from the Convention in Perth, the 2024 Convention will be hosted by the Queensland Bonsai Society in Brisbane. Then in 2025 the Canberra Bonsai Society will celebrate their 50th Golden Anniversary by hosting the 37th AABC National Bonsai Convention.
I wish to thank my fellow Executive for their support and effort and to everyone in the bonsai community encouragement to go further in their bonsai life.
Australia – New Zealand News
The Australia-New Zealand region of World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF) is hosting the next World Bonsai Convention (the 9th), this is to be a Virtual Event, 8 – 16 October 2022. Lindsay Bebb (QLD) is the Chairman of WBFF and Frank Kelly (ACT) a Director. Martin Walters is the New Zealand International Consultant for WBFF.
Every year the number of local bonsai events increases. Often they are weekend events with “hands on” workshops and demonstrations. Attending these events supports the improvement in the standard of bonsai in Australia. Local exhibitions promote the art of bonsai and encourage new membership.
Each year clubs host visiting International bonsai artists. This aids the improvement in the standard of bonsai nationally. It is great to see clubs work together to share a tour of these demonstrators. National friendships are also formed.
We now have more Australian demonstrators demonstrating globally and an increase in the number of available tutors in the Visiting Tutor Program. Many have studied overseas.
8 – 16 October 2022 – 9th World Bonsai Virtual Convention
19 – 22 May 2023 – 35th AABC National Bonsai Convention, Crown Towers, Perth
May 2024 – 36th AABC National Bonsai Convention, Brisbane
Lindsay Bebb (QLD) is the Chairman of World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF) and Frank Kelly (ACT) is the Regional Director for Australia-New Zealand. Martin Walters is the New Zealand International Consultant for WBFF.
An initiative from World Bonsai Friendship Federation is that the Federation is happy to support bonsai events, conventions and other activities through the use of the WBFF logo. If clubs wish to indicate on their advertising that WBFF supports their event, they can apply to their Regional Director (Frank Kelly, contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org) for details on how to gain approval and receive permission to use the WBFF logo for a specific activity.
Every year there are many International Bonsai events. Attending these events supports the improvement in the standard of bonsai in Australia with delegates able to view displays of high standard trees in the “bark” from all angles (not just a screen or photo). These events provide workshops and demonstrations by the best demonstrators from around the world. Global friendships are also formed.
We have more Australian demonstrators now demonstrating globally as well as at our AABC National Conventions.
Some of the international events organised are listed below:
8 – 16 October 2022 – 9th World Bonsai Virtual Convention
February – Kokofu-ten, Tokyo, JAPAN