The Art Of Flowers


William Wordsworth wrote it in his poem, “Daffodills”, Too Sooi Keng can show you how to achieve it.

“Daffodils” illustrated the peaceful solitude and pleasure begotten from the sight of the golden flowers. While Wordsworth penned it beautifully for our imagination, Too has the secret to make it a reality in our living rooms.

A pioneer teacher of Ikenobo in Malaysia and with 13 years experience, Too can teach you how to create the serenity and tranquility of the poem mentioned; with any flower you wish.

Ikenobo is the earliest origin of the Japanese art that dates back almost 500 years. Inspired by the scenic views of nature, the principles of this art find its muses in the mountains, flowers and trees of Japan. 

Manipulating items such as bamboo, wooden materials and pine, Too creates masterpieces of flower arrangements to soothe the eye and create ambience in a room.

“The sight of the flower arrangements is meant to invoke a sense of beauty and harmony with nature”, said Too who has been teaching the art in Ipoh for the past six years.

“It all started when my father-in-law kept buying flowers for the house and I had no idea how to arrange them. As I looked into the proper ways of flower arrangement, I met my Taiwanese teacher who introduced me to Ikenobo and I have stuck to it since.”

Too keeps one foot constantly in the Ikenobo world with trips to Japan and Taiwan, where the art is more prominently recognized.

 “The knowledge has been passed down and preserved until today and is still continually growing, which is why I need to keep updated. Ikenobo is a never-ending learning process with many levels to achieve.”

Currently Too operates the Ikenobo Malaysia Harmony Floral Art Centre which is the only centre in Malaysia to be approved and formally accorded rights by the Ikenobo headquarters in Japan. She has about 40 students and conducts her classes at the YMCA, Ipoh.

 “Try it out and you just might fall in love with it,” said Lee Shu Huei, 23, who is also Too’s daughter and youngest student.

 “I started taking a keen interest and learning when I was 11”, said Lee who has advanced so much in the field that she is already qualified to teach.

“Western flower arrangements tend to overwhelm the vase or even cover it completely, focusing more on the beauty of the flowers itself. Ikenobo incorporates even the vessel as an important feature. The angles and stems, shapes and features of the pot are just as important as the flower itself”, said Lee.

According to Lee, there are five main themes under the art; Moribana, Shoka, Nageribana, Jiyubana and Rikka. There are many more subtypes under these five themes which also represent the complexity levels of arrangements.

“The ultimate aim is to achieve ‘Rikka’ which is like a mini Japanese scene”, said Lee.

With three prior exhibitions, Too has maintained a fairly low profile about her Ikenobo works.

“My students and teachers always prod me towards bigger publicity, but I have always shied away from the limelight. Finally I feel that it is time for me to promote the art with a bigger drive especially to Malaysians,” said Too.

“That’s why we are holding the exhibition to showcase the works of my students and hopefully attract more people to be passionate about this art.”

Ikenobo Malaysia Harmony Floral Art Centre will be holding a two-day exhibition on the 9th and 10th of January 2010. Admission to the public is free and all are welcome to purchase the works of beauty to help charities. The proceeds will be donated to Jelapang Old Folks’ home and two other charities that support Thalassemia patients and underprivileged children. Those who may like to explore the classes may contact Carmen at 05-2556198 during office hours.