Emerald’s blooming good “friendship through flowers”
By Brendan Rees
Through her passion in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, Emerald Leung of Docklands believes it’s “so easy to find beauty in everyday life”.
Using blossoms, branches, leaves, and stems, Ms Leung finds new life in her materials while also considering colour, line, and form in her artmaking.
“It’s also about minimalism, so every time I spot a fallen branch with beautiful curves, or a piece of bark twisted into an interesting form, I have to make sure I only collect what I can use in my arrangements since it’s so easy to become a hoarder,” she said.
Ms Leung discovered her passion for ikebana, a practice which dates back to sixth century Buddhism, while teaching English at a primary school in Japan in the early 2000s.
“I lived in a small town where I was the only ‘gaijin’ (foreigner) so I was in popular demand as a native English speaker,” she explained.
One of the parents was an ikebana teacher so someone had the great idea that if they formed an English-speaking ikebana class they could practice their conversation with me. It was that or English karaoke and no one should be made to hear me sing, ever.
“I have been pursuing ikebana ever since, both home and abroad, and with the motto of Ikebana International being ‘friendship through flowers’, I’ve made many great friends through this pursuit.”
Ms Leung is now a qualified teacher of the cultural artform and delivers classes from her home every fortnight on a Sunday.
During lockdown, she offered Zoom sessions to students and friends “as a fun way to stay in touch”, but that said, she finds ikebana is better practised in person “since it is both tactile/hands on and requires technical precision with both the selection and configuration of materials”.
“Careful and considered choices are what makes the difference between a pleasant display and a true work of art,” she said.
As a passionate Docklander who has called the precinct home for five years and one who loves the “brilliant sunsets” over Victoria Harbour, Ms Leung is also an advocate for reducing food waste in the community.
She hopes residents will jump onboard a Victoria Point Vertical Village Food Waste Audit this month, a program developed by Regrown, a social enterprise organisation, to look at how much food households throw out each week.
“Having seen a lot of usable items in the Vic Point apartment [building] ongoing in the hard rubbish collection area, I want to play my part in highlighting the ways we can reduce our landfill by giving away perfectly usable items or just buying what we need in the first place,” she said.
“I hate seeing things wasted and going to landfill unnecessarily. Maybe it’s the Japanese minimalist aesthetic, or maybe it’s just because I want to save money – but probably both.” •
For ikebana class enquiries: [email protected]