AN INTERVIEW WITH REGINALDO BOCKHORNI
*reprinted with permission from the journal CEAT, Creative Arts in Education and Therapy: Eastern and Western Perspectives, (2019), 5(2), 105–108 http://caet.inspirees.com/caetojsjournals/index.php/caet/article/view/192
In this interview, Reginaldo Bockhorni, an Ikebana professor at the Ikenobo School, shares his personal and professional experiences with ikebana. He explains how art and medical science cross over and benefit each other through his creative endeavors, how ikebana transformed his emotional world and influenced his identity and outlook.
Keywords: life, ikebana, art, nature, flowers, Ikenobo school
Brief note about the interviewee:
Reginaldo Bockhorni is a Professor graduate in Ikebana Floral Art Ikenobo at Kyoto. He is president of Ikenobo Zürich Study Group and gives classes in Holland and Switzerland. He is also Master Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Neurology (Parkinson and Multiple Sclerosis).
Tony Zhou (TZ): You were born in Brazil and later on trained as a neurological specialist in Parkinson’s disease. All this sounds quite far removed from ikebana. What attracted you to this route? How do you think art and medical science intersect and benefit each other? Do you feel there is a specific link between ikebana and neuroscience?
Reginaldo Bockhorni (RB): Brazil has a large Japanese community, and in my family, there are some Japanese influences. Ikebana is very well-known in Brazilian society, and I have always been interested in learning this art. It came into my life as a hobby and has turned into a profession. I believe what attracted me most in this art was the respect for life and nature. Ikebana means bringing flowers to life. It requires patience and perseverance and can also be very relaxing. I remember practicing ikebana after an intense day of work would help me to calm down. I believe that when your eyes are focused on something so beautiful, it makes you feel positive and relaxed. It can sometimes be so emotionally beautiful that flowers, leaves, and branches can offer you this. By training, I am a specialist in the treatment of neurological-chronic diseases (Parkinson’s/Multiple Sclerosis) and have worked in a hospital setting for over 15 years. Hospital care is about life and death, about treating diseases and keeping people alive. The disease areas that I was working in are chronic diseases, meaning that the medical community has not yet succeeded in finding a cure. People affected by these diseases will need care for the rest of their lives. We do our utmost best to provide the patients with the best possible treatment and care, to keep them alive for as long as possible. Respect for life is what unites everyone working in health care. Without it, you cannot work in this area. I believe the same is true for ikebana. If there is one parallel between the two worlds, it is the respect for life.
TZ: Looking back on your own path in life and profession, you have moved around a lot. Was there any special reason that mobilized you? How did ikebana help you deal with all these changes?
RB: My life’s journey has brought me from Brazil to Europe, and in Europe to various countries. While studies and work have been the reasons for moving, ikebana has always been with me. And it has changed me. I feel calmer, I have a lot of patience to listen and to teach. I can express more feelings through ikebana than before. When practicing ikebana, you will sometimes spend hours working on an arrangement. Whether alone or in a group, you will be the only one working on your arrangement, and this means that you will be on a personal journey until you have completed it. During this journey, you will be confronted with your thoughts, related or unrelated to the arrangement you are working on. Your mind will wander off; you will need to focus; you will have to learn to control your internal conversation. This will bring you closer to your feelings and will help you recognize them and allow them in. When I decided to move to Switzerland along with my partner one and a half years ago, I knew I would start all over again: new friends, new students, and new challenges. Thanks to years of ikebana practice, instead of feelings of uncertainty and fear, I was calm, with feelings of curiousness and anticipation. Because ikebana is like that too. Every day, you have new material to learn to use in a creative way. And no matter where I am, I can always fall back on ikebana.
Photo: Reginaldo Bockhorni at work
TZ: How did ikebana transform your emotional world and influence your identity and perception of the world?
RB: Ikebana itself is another world. When you visit an ikebana exhibit, you notice that all people leave with a smile on their face and become very relaxed. I think it is because while practising ikebana you live in a world of beauty, in a world of the pursuit of perfection, where there is no visual pollution. Ikebana fills your eyes and your mind with beautiful things.
TZ: Ikebana, as a creative and elegant form of art, seems to carry the Yin quality. How do you, as a male medical professional and ikebana teacher, perceive and interpret this art?
RB: Until the 18th century, ikebana was solely for men. Women were only allowed to assist and clean. Nowadays, all the professors in Japan are men, but most students and practitioners are women. Personally, I think it is very special to see fragile flowers in the hands of men; I think men can be very creative. When we make a very big arrangement, we see that for men it is much easier to cut, nail, and carry heavy branches. I also see that men have a greater perspective of asymmetry or symmetry when they need to measure, compare, and calculate the space of large arrangements. At the same time, women are incredibly important for ikebana, and the daughter of the current Headmaster of Ikenobo School will become the future Headmaster.
TZ: How does Ikebana help you to understand different layers of relation: self-others-nature/universe?
RB: I believe in three different layers: flora, fauna, and the human. Trying to understand plants, animals, and humans for me is already an art. I believe we can learn from each other, and there must also be respect for each other. The most interesting for me is that where there are flowers, there are people.
TZ: What are the biggest challenges and crises human beings are facing at this moment? How can you, as an ikebana professor, contribute to the advancement of human understanding and evolution via your artistic practice?
RB: Due to the modernization and digitization of our society, people have less contact with nature. There is less time to appreciate trees, plants, and flowers. Most young people today cannot name five different flowers or know where a pineapple or fig comes from. There is much talk about the environment, conservation, and care, but when did you last plant a tree, plant, or flower? When do you take the time to enjoy a flower at home? Ikebana ensures closer contact with branches, leaves, and flowers. Practicing ikebana, you develop patience and creativity and express your feelings to improve beauty through your arrangement.
Tony Y. Zhou, PhD,
is the director of Inspirees Institute (China/Netherlands). He is also the founder and executive editor of CAET. He was trained as a biomedical scientist and later on received training in dance/movement therapy and is the first certified movement analyst in mainland China. He cofounded the International Association of Creative Arts Somatic Education in 2019.
Reference for citations
Zhou, T.Y. (2020). An interview with Reginaldo Bockhorni. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 2(1). [open access internet journal]. – URL: http://ecopoiesis.ru (d/m/y)