Bonsai Club Brixen
A short history of the Bonsai Club Bressanone
Everything started in the year 1989 when the Cultural Association of Bressanone devised a course with the title “Cultivation and Shaping of Bonsai trees”. A few interested people signed up and course leader Othmar Auer taught them the basics of Bonsai art. At the end of the course everyone agreed that there was still a lot more to learn about this oriental art.
So we decided to meet up regularly and the Cultural Association kindly provided an appropriate space for the meetings. In the beginning we worked in a group of about 10 people who came from different parts of South Tyrol.
On the suggestion of the Cultural Association we then officially founded the Bonsai Club in an inaugural meeting. 17 people were present and they all wanted to become members. Karl Manfred was elected first president of the Club, whereas Othmar Auer, Horst Leitempergher, Petrus Vikoler and Gerda Ramoser made up the first board. All the members received a written programme.
Initially, the meetings were attended in great numbers, then the interest decreased somewhat. Another negative point was that, starting from the year 1991, we couldn’t use our original meeting room any longer and it was only in 1992, after long discussions, that we were assigned another room in the elementary school “Luise Waldner”/Bressanone. Later the club moved to the middle school “Michael Pacher” in Via Laghetto where we still meet today. There are an average of two meetings per month, consisting not only of activities in the evenings, but also of instructive outings lasting more than one day, to visit exhibitions and Bonsai centres.
After the first “Toerggelen” (a South Tyrolean custom involving the tasting of the new wine and eating local specialties) it became a given that we meet every autumn for a special dinner. Helmut Bachmann, a renowned chef and cooking teacher, thus brought us to some amazing restaurants all over South Tyrol.
In 1992 we succeeded in inviting the Japanese Bonsai expert Tanaka Shozo to Bressanone where he demonstrated the shaping of a larch tree. More presentations and workshops organized by renowned experts followed. The Bonsai Club Bressanone also made contacts with Bonsai lovers in Northern Tyrol and in the Trentino province.
In May 1993 the members of the club organized the first Bonsai exhibition in the Cusanus Academy/Bressanone. The crush at the entrance was so great that from time to time the entrance had to be closed! In the exhibition one could admire trees of our club members but also those of Bonsai lovers from other parts of Italy, from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
In 1994 we were able to bring a Japan-based Bonsai master to Bressanone: Suzuki Hideo. After a communal hiking trip to the mountains, in the evening he gave a speech on one of his pine trees and the next day he held a workshop.
In February 1995 four members of our club travelled to Japan themselves. When they came back, they organized a slide show and thus conveyed their impressions of the world of Bonsai and of Japanese culture in general to the other club members as well.
The 15th, 16th and 17th September 1995 saw the Second Bonsai Exhibition in the Cusanus Academy, which for the moment was to be the absolute highlight in the club’s history. Apart from European experts, also present was the worldwide famed Bonsai expert John Yoshio Naka.
With the help of Maria Teresa Volonterio, in 1997 the “Scuola d’Arte Bonsai” was founded, a subsidiary of the Japanese Bonsai school Hamano, with Hideo Suzuki as a teacher. Several of our club members graduated from this school with a diploma.
In the year 2000 the Bonsai Club Bressanone organized the international Bonsai exhibition “Aki Ten”. Next to Yamada Tomio and Suzuki Hideo from Japan, many European experts had come to the exhibition. It was praised enormously both in Italy and abroad, so we can still be proud of that event today.
Five years later there were some personnel changes within the club itself. Helmut Bachmann was elected new president and the new board now comprised Gerda Ramoser, Georg Frener, Roland Schatzer and Oskar Gasser.
In 2008 it was time for the European Bonsai Congress, the “Sakka Ten”, with an international exhibition. Apart from many European Bonsai experts, guest of honour was the Japanese Bonsai master Kobayashi Kunio. The exhibition was cited as one of the best in Europe and even Japanese magazines reported on its excellent level.
Both in 2010 and in 2014 single members of the club travelled to Japan to visit the gardens of famous masters. In 2012 there was another exhibition in the garden of Castle Trauttmannsdorff (a botanical garden near Merano) which was a great success with the visitors.
Apart from these highlights there were many smaller events and activities which signed the history of the club. For example, we are very proud to have been invited by masters from Japan and renowned experts from Europe.
The aim of the Bonsai Club Bressanone has always been and will always be to teach the art of Bonsai to its members following the Japanese example and to deepen their knowledge through regular meetings.