Interview: Ikebana Artist Neslihan Noyan

 

 

Hi Ms. Noyan. Welcome to my page. Could you please tell a little bit about yourself?

 

Hi, first of all, I would like to thank you for giving a space to me at your blog .I am Neslihan Noyan born and raised in Ankara. After graduating from the Fine Arts High School, I received my undergraduate degree from Hacettepe University’s American Culture and Literature Department. I worked as an English teacher not only in Turkey, but also in Japan and the U.S. I lived in Japan between 1997-2000 and attended Ohara İkebana School of Japan and studied Japanese. Then, I lived in the United States between 2000-2007 and I did my graduate studies on Linguistics at Syracuse University New York and taught English to foreigners in a language school. I have been working as an expert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2008. In 2010, I wrote a book on behalf of the Japanese Year in Turkey; namely “Japan as I Heard and Saw”. I have been attending ceramics classes and making my own containers for my flowers. I opened my first İkebana exhibition at the Turkish American Associations’s Emin Hekimgil Art Gallery on behalf of Mother’s Day with the title “ All mothers are flowers” and my second ikebana exhibition in March 2019 at the Turkish-Japanese Foundation with the title “ While waiting for Spring”.

 

How did your journey as an İkebana artist start?

 

I started İkebana to understand the Japanese sense of dealing with nature. Thanks to Hanami: Japanese Flower Observing season, I was able to develop a deeper understanding of enjoying flowers. When I was living in Japan, I often saw Japanese people gazing at flowers as if they have never ever seen one single blossom in their lives during the time of chery blossom season, which falls in April. So, I asked my friend the reason of this attitude. My friend said ”Neslihan-san Sakura: Cherry blossoms bloom for just about a week. Then they fall with the coming rain or wind. This is like a summary of the circle of life for us. Our lives are momentary just like the flowers. How did you make your life meaningful? What differences can you make while living? This is what we think when we observe them.” At that moment, I fell in love with this great philosophy. From that moment, I decided to disseminate this deep philosophy in my environment and in my country.
I have been doing ikebana over the last 20 years. This art has taught me that flowers do have their own language. While arranging flowers, you feel yourself as a part of nature and you become a whole with nature. I thought that this type of realisation shouldn’t be limited to only ikebanists therefore, I have started to give seminars and write projects to raise awareness on the issue of raising a respectful generation who adore and take lessons from nature.

 

Could you please give information about İkebana for those who are not familiar with the art and the values it represents?

 

Ikebana dates back to Buddhist tradition. In order to appreciate it at a deeper level, one has to look into Buddhist and Zen philosophy. When we analyze the word “İkebana” etymologically, “ikeru”: live and “bana”=Hana: Flower. It means” live flowers”. It was born in the 15. Century in Rokkaku Temple in Kyoto as a religious ritual to give thanks to Buddha and today it has more than 3000 schools in Japan and has been widely spread all over Japan and many countries. İkebana is more than a hobby. For the ones who have chosen to practice it, it is a way. This way is called “the way of flowers”. This way lasts for a life time and the ones who have chosen this road feel a sense of belonging to nature. İkebanists or ikebana artists are in tune with nature and they try to convey the divine relationship between man and nature in their works.

 

Are the flowers people use in Japan different from the ones in Turkey? If so, how?

 

In Japan, each flower has their own seasonal meanings and symbols. I cannot find the same variety in Turkey; however, I do my best to convey the meaning of this art in Turkey as much as I can.

 

Japanese Ambassador Akiyo Miyajima described ikebana” as something while preserving its traditional roots of the Japanese culture, it is something that changes the tendency of time. In this respect ikebana is similar to that of Japanese and Turkish culture, which value traditions while being open to novelties.” How do you feel that connection while practicing ikebana?

 

Yes, I agree with the Excellency Miyajima-san wholeheartedly. There are any similarities between Turkish and Japanese cultures. However, Japanese people lived in an isolated island, which has given them a homogenious identity. Turks can adapt changes quickly since we kept on moving from one place to another for years. When we consider things from that perspective, Japanese people are not that as flexible as Turks. They tend to follow structures really well. They are disciplinarians. On the other hand, I have observed that hierarchy and authority are important in both cultures.
Having lived in Japan, learning Japanese and practicing their arts, have helped me understand their culture. I do my best to connect both cultures in my works.

 

Could you please tell us about your İkebana work which has received an award in Japan?

 

Sure. I have combined ikebana with ceramics over the last two years. Now, I produce my own ikebana containers. In my works, I follow Japanese Wabi-sabi philosophy. Ikebana and ceramics have been influenced by this philosophy a lot. Wabi-sabi supports nature and things that are natural. Contrary to Western philosophy, it helps you reflect the pure spirit of nature into your art. While emphasizing the impermenance of life, wabi-sabi invites us to enjoy the moment. I gave the title “ We need to consider life from a different window” to my work. I was happy that this piece of work gained recognition and appreciation by Japanese İkebana Masters.

 

You give lectures about İkebana to the people who are interested in Japanese culture. Do you also give İkebana lessons?

 

I regularly give İkebana workshops at the Turkish-Japanese Foundation. Soon, we will organize Hanami : Flower observing tours during Spring and Autumn to our members. We plan to give information about our nature in these tours.

 

Can everybody learn İkebana?


There aren’t many people doing ikebana in Turkey. I believe that one needs to be familiar with Japanese culture in order to learn İkebana. For this reason, during my workshops, I also give information regarding Japanese culture and aesthetics.
I think that people interested in the beauty of nature can learn ikebana. However, practicing it takes a long time. Therefore, one needs to observe nature daily and be patient while practicing it.

 

Due to Covid-19 a lot of projects have been terminated. How about your plans?

 

Due to Pandemic many projects we want to accomplish are postponed. Hopefully, we will continue them in the coming days.

 

What are your future plans as an İkebana artist?

 

I wrote a Project on the dissemination of Hanami: Japanese Flower Observation days in Turkey and as the Japanese Music and Arts Associaiton , we would like to raise awareness on the issue of respecting and protecting nature.
In our fast forward technological society, we consume everything including our nature. We hardly ever take a look at our nature, we hardly ever observe the beauty lying in front of our eyes. We have created huge masses of cementand as a result of this, we as Turks cannot find a place to breathe in our cities. Gradually, while we are leaving nature, we produce generations who live on the internet and who cannot communicate. We need to love our nature. We need to go out with our families and friends to discover nature and observe the beauty of flowers so that we can enjoy our lives. If we cannot find the time for this, we can still buy flowers and arrange them. We know that new generations who respect nature, who follow nature will respect each other and form a more peaceful and balanced society.
I have also written a book on that issue and would like to publish it soon. After the release of my new book, I intent to give seminars on the issue of raising awareness on nature.

 

You can follow at neslihan_ikebana on her instagram page.;https://www.instagram.com/neslihana_ikebana/

 

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