THIS weekend a Japanese flower arranging group will celebrate their 25th birthday with a visit from the oldest school for the art in Japan.
The Surrey Ikenobo Group (SIG) are holding an exhibition at Fairfield Halls this weekend to mark the occasion with guest of honour Yuki Ikenobo, the 46th generation of headmaster at the 552-year-old Japanese school the Ikenobo Group
Hansa H. Patel, from Purley, is president of SIG who practice the Ikenobo school of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.
Ikebana is different from Western flower arranging as it focuses on the individual flower.
Mrs Patel said: "In reality you appreciate the branch, the leaf, the flower, the bud, the berries because they are seeds and they regenerate.
"And for that reason we put much more emphasis not just on putting the flowers as a group but as an individual, while still bringing harmony."
Mrs Patel began practicing Ikebana in 1987 when her teacher, Tamiko Tamura, visited England. She took over SIG from Mrs Tamura 21 years ago, but still returns to Japan once or twice a year to carry on learning.
She gets up at 3.30am twice a week to visit Covent Garden flower market to buy flowers for her art.
Mrs Patel said she likes it because it is peaceful, and Ms Ikenobo added this comes from the harmony between the branches and flowers.
Mrs Ikenobo said: "I think because modern life is too busy and stressful and aggressive people need something to relax and refresh."
Mrs Patel said that she takes inspiration for her arrangements from the flowers themselves.
"Different plants have different things to offer," she said.
"When I go to Japan to study I see material there and then I come back and try to implement it so we can see much more of the inner beauty of the plants."
Mrs Ikenobo added: "We are trying to find inner beauty. Usually people pay a lot of attention to the outside, but what is important is we have the eyes to watch what is inside."
There are 100 Ikenobo groups outside of Japan so Ms Ikenobo is only able to visit one or two a year. Mrs Patel said it was a great honour for her to visit SIG.
And Ms Ikenobo was impressed with the work she saw at the exhibition at Fairfield Halls.
"I think they are really very good members and they have a really strong passion to study the spirit of Ikenobo and Ikebana," she said.
"Every Ikebana work is very good and very unique. I think it is because Mrs Patel is teaching them very enthusiastically," she added.
The exhibition will be open tomorrow (October 11) at Fairfield Halls between 10.30am and 6pm, and on Sunday (October 12) between 10.30am and 5pm. Entry is £4. Ms Ikenobo will give a demonstration tomorrow at 2pm, for which tickets cost £6.