Waltzing Monkey

Waltzing Monkey

Now that the world cup is finished, the accounts are finished and I have got no more excuses, its back to some good old hard work. I have some Sisyphean cleaning tasks to do which will have me longing for receipts and spreadsheets.

I did promise that there would be some new content via Bonsai Basho…and here it is…in all its embarrassing entirety. I am not camera shy, I am naturally like that.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDLVsTf4buE]

There will be a full text to go with the second part, Phil at Bonsaibasho.com is finding it difficult to edit my monotone drone. It will get done soon though. This is the tree in question….

During the discussions we had making this, I told Phil that I do not like the use of the word “Master” to describe what I am and it reminded me of a documentary I heard a while ago about the continuing tradition of Wandergeselle, or Journeymen, in Germany and neighbouring countries. It was the second time I had thought of this recently as I am very much a Journeyman and have gone through a similar process.

According to the oracle of Wikipedia….”The word ‘journeyman’ comes from the French word journee, meaning the period of one day; this refers to their right to charge a fee for each day’s work. They would normally be employed by a master craftsman but would live apart and might have a family of their own. A journeyman could not employ others. In contrast, an apprentice would be bound to a master, usually for a fixed term of seven years, and lived with the master as a member of the household, receiving most or all of their compensation in terms of food and lodging.”

Since the early days of the industrial revolution apprenticeships have declined in the UK as machines have replaced the need for skilled labour, a trend which continues today. The number of self-service check out tills in supermarkets and B&Q; is abhorrent and should be boycotted at every opportunity. The rise of the capitalist industries also destroyed the power of the guild who controlled the progressions of an apprentice through being a Journeyman and who finally decided if the craftsman could become a Master. While the guilds did impose restrictions on trade and who could practice the trade and where, they did ensure a standard of quality which made European craftsmanship of the 18th/19th century a thing of beauty.

There is no guild of Bonsai artists so who determines the Mastery of it as an art or craft? The use of the term Master in the bonsai community is free, unrestrained and in many cases self awarded. We have a culture of frowning upon the sale and subsequent display of a masterpiece tree created by the great artists, so is commercial success a good yard stick for mastery? This is certainly true in the art world where the works created are a commercial product, yet in the artistic Bonsai community this is not strictly true.

Apprenticeships declined in the UK to the point where it was less than 1% of total employment in 1990. I have always felt that we have a snobbish attitude to craftsmen or tradesmen in the UK. The idea that intelligence is vastly superior to skill and ability is endemic in society. During my schooling the entire education system was geared towards academic excellence rather than the ability to create anything and we are now seeing the effect of this in society with our almost non-existent manufacturing industry and our dependence on the service sector…which would make you think that service would improve, but that simple piece of logic seems to have bypassed the current generation of bar staff in most London pubs. I always felt pressured to go to University and was never given any other option, when I discussed my desire to be a gardener at the age of 17, my careers adviser laughed at me and told me it would be a waste of talent. I do not regret it and it was a worthwhile learning experience, however I would not do it now, with the debt burden, possible new graduate tax and 70 applicants for every graduate job. With news today that University applications are at a record level and over 100,000 people will be rejected, what for them? Will the traditional apprenticeship make a return or will the country create more non jobs. I’m sure Defra need a few more idiots on their staff to ban every chemical that is of any use to us.

Anyway….that went off a bit political and I didn’t mean for it to. I have recently come to appreciate my status as a Journeyman Bonsai-ist and will continue my years of being a jolly swagman.

1 Comment

  1. Great Video Peter. Extremely Educative. Thanks for giving the opportunity to see how it's done.

    Gustavo

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