At the recent Australian Association of bonsai Clubs (AABC) convention in Canberra I was lucky enough to see Ryan Neil both demonstrate and conduct work shops over the course of three days.

Ryan works on a juniper.

Ryan works on a juniper.

For those that didn’t make the convention, you really missed out. We are very lucky in Australia in that we have a large number of foreign demonstrators and teachers visit. In fact, during a conversation at the convention we counted 5 foreign bonsai demonstrators alone this year who were coming over the pond to share their bonsai skills and passion.

What set Ryan apart from most other demonstrators I had seen was the clear way in which he explained concepts. All the demonstrators on the world circuit are capable of creating good trees, but very few of them are as excellent at communicating their ideas and methods. Ryan was excellent at this as well as his obvious skill in bonsai itself. In fact he talked non-stop throughout his presentations and demonstrations while moving between the tree he was styling and a white board, where he would draw diagrams to further make clear concepts.

Ryan and a red pine from the National Bonsai and Penjing collection.

Ryan and a red pine from the National Bonsai and Penjing collection.

Ryan’s skills obviously did not stop at presenting, he had a confident and logical approach to styling, wiring and bonsai health that he was also able to convey both through his work and interacting with the audience.

He worked on 3 trees over the course of two days which my camera only really captured the final image of one well. He styled a Juniper, a scotts pine and an old red pine from the national bonsai and Penjing collection.

The red pine after some structural wiring.

The red pine after some structural wiring.

I think it would be safe to say that every one in the crowd learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. Ryan has certainly left Australia wanting more and hopefully we will see him return at some stage in the future. Perhaps he can revisit this red pine once it has seen some further refinement in his absence.

The finished Red pine demo tree.

The finished Red pine demo tree.

The results obviously speak for themselves. Ryan put on a great show and openly shared his knowledge over the course of the 3 days. For any one that has the chance to see him or learn under him I would suggest you take up that chance, I certainly will again should I get the opportunity.

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