A.I.A.S. Exhibition and Congress - 2015 Edition


October 10th-11th 2015

National Suiseki Exhibition

Monumental Cloister of Saint Francisco
Via San Francisco d’Assisi – Aversa (Caserta)

XVIII National A.I.A.S. Congress 2015 


Report by Mrs.Daniela Schifano - Photo by Mr. Carlo Laghi

Another historical moment of our Italy has been the venue of the annual AIAS members’ meeting : the Monumental Cloister of Saint Francisco, in Aversa, where since the beginning of 1800  the enclosed Clarisse nuns  have lived  their existence devoted to God and that still offers a corner of peace  and meditation. The Napoli Bonsai Club  which  has this year organized  the National A.I.A.S. Congress  has had a winning idea: ample and peaceful  spaces have been  offered , framed by medieval frescos ,  wrapped by a cosy and discreet  atmosphere. It can appear an heresy  but… the place seemed to me  so in accordance  to a suiseki exhibition  to involve me  in not much orthodox  comparisons,  between  the spiritual meaning  of the cloister  in the religious architecture  and the need of the modern laic man  to devote part of his days  to the silence  and to the listening , and of how much the art of suiseki  is one of the so many ways  which stimulates  the introspection, the meditation  and the concentration.

The entrance gate  divides two worlds…
    The members ….meditate  and exchange opinions
  The colonnade  with the wonderful  medieval frescos

Some story….  The monastic  Venue  of Saint Francisco  rose around the 1230  by the noblewomen  of the Rebursa  family , who used  some of their houses as a pious place of retirement  for follower women of the Clarisse Rule,  at  the pre-existing  church  of Saint Francisco d’Assisi. The venue  was restored  more times , the present church  is in baroque  style  and the cloister  remain the sole witness of the original Romanesque  appearance of the venue. Very fine also the superior  chorus  of the nuns , with a remarkable  example  of coffered ceiling , unfortunately  abandoned  and falling  but which  can be admired  by a grating .  With the laws of convents abolitions  of the 1809 a great part  of the buildings was  expropriated , and were used as public works.

The cloister
    The glazed cupola  of the Saint Francisco church   A particular of the frescos

The suiseki exhibited in the six categories in contest were 82 , more 4 out  of contest. Have taken advantage  of the open gallery  at ground floor  and at first floor, with 1,20 linear mt. at disposal  for every  stone, as it had been guaranteed  by the Board member Mr. Carlo Scafuri , president  of the Napoli Bonsai Club , during the members Assembly  in Rimini , as indispensable condition  to assure a good expositive quality. Then an elevated   number  of stones in contest, an excellent participation  of members  and to end   an expositive space  which has allowed , thanks also to the high backgrounds,  to use kakejiku of remarkable dimensions : with these preliminary remarks , the result  has been an exhibition of very good quality  and at same time  of considerable numbers.
The event  has been sponsored by the BCI , the NBSKE , the UBI and the IBS.  But it has been an unforgettable  convention over all for the ample cultural proposal  which has enriched  the exhibition :  the lectures of the sole judge  President of the B.C.I. Mr.Thomas Elias have followed one another that of the honorary President  of the Napoli Bonsai Club  Mr. Antonio Acampora and of the B.C.I.  Director Mr. Massimo Bandera.
But it is not all: the presence  of  Mr. Sergio Biagi  and of Mr. Andrea Terinazzi   has allowed us to understand  the building  techniques  of the bronze doban  of  Sergio  and of the tempai  of Andrea  and to know  the professional way  which has lead  them to be the sole Italian artist  in these fields.

Furthermore:  a photographic  contest advertised by the Flegrea Photo Association,  on the theme “The Mountain”  has had  its final moment  during the Congress, with the awaited awarding  and with the projection  of all the photos in contest.
But it is not enough !   The personal inks  of  Mr. Sandro Segneri   accompanied by the haiku  of Mr. Tiberio Gracco,  and by the photographic works  of Mr. Paco Donato,  joined  with the poetries of Mrs. Yurika Nakaema  have extended  the breath  of an event  not limited only to the stones

The inks of  Mr. Sandro Segneri   One of the Mr. Tiberio Gracco haiku   The  photo  gallery of Mr. Paco Donato , a new member from Rome
We welcome  the new members Mr. Andrea Terinazzi, Mr. Paco Donato, Mr. Cosimo Pepe , Mr. Paolo Dassetto and to the Bonsai Club of Avellino,  which just in Aversa have started their way in the Association. 
  And here are the authors  of this wonderful Convention : the members of the Napoli Bonsai Club, whom in addition to their professional competence have offered us warmth, welcome and friendship! As it is in his style , among his friends, we cannot but  to record Mr. Carlo Scafuri , President of the Club and  AIAS Board member, the propelling engine of this Congress  and of the so many initiatives  which he has  finally wanted and carried out. What to say ….. a plate is not sufficient  and from these pages  we thank all with our hearth.

The only unfavourable aspect  of this Convention (well then yes…)  has been the rain,  continuous,  flooding, at intervals violent , which only in the Sunday afternoon  has given us some truce.

This year, a really extraordinary judge and a lecturer Dr. Mr. Thomas Elias , President of B.C.I.  Tireless  promoter  of the stone appreciation art , whether Chinese, Japanese or American, he has been Director  of the National Arboretum of Washington  DC, and has worked  and travelled in China and Japan  for more of thirty years . Together  with his wife Mrs. Hiromi Nakaoji , he is the author  of most important  books on the appreciation of Asian stones.
After the opening ceremony  on Saturday morning , the Congressional works  have soon started  to get to the heart with the lecture  of Mr. Thomas Elias  with the title “Beyond Suiseki”.

  The approach  utilized by Mr. Elias  has proposed a novelty to offer again:  in addition to the  classical slides , translated  in Italian for a better comprehension, some of which asked questions to the audience, placing the assumptions for a lively and  stimulating comparison …… over all among the members !

On Saturday afternoon , the lecture of Mr. Antonio Acampora has concerned  another important theme, that of the harmonious display of a suiseki , according to the school of Keido.

“It is more easy to appreciate Bonsai than Suiseki. A Bonsai is living  and changes every moment , it has it different beauty in every season, and in this way we learn to appreciate the nature.”  A stone instead is immovable , quiet  and everlasting . Everyone  can make reference  to the colour  or to the shape of the stone since the moment it can be seen  or touched, but the stones are not Suiseki , they become it only when someone  intensely watches them, admires them and feels something , something which is in the air and in the magic which belongs to that person only.”
(From the Antonio Acampora lecture)

Without a moment of pause , the program has brought us towards the members’ Assembly , where is has been proposed and voted the unification of “Biseki” and “Patter stones” categories, on account of the low number  of stones enrolled  in these categories . The Assembly  has approved  the proposal therefore  at next convention  the categories  in contest will be five. The assembly decision  of Rimini , which has ratified  to register one sole stone for category  has however brought good results , by reducing the stone registered in the category of “Landscape stone” in favour over all to the “Object Stone” category.
As always    the most waited moment arrives, the gala dinner, the awarding and the amusing lottery and neither the  pelting rain  could arrest  the pleasure to stay  together , with the legs under the table, as the friend  Mr. Carlo Laghi says.
In addition to the prestigious  Trophy  and the A.I.A.S.  category Awards , has been assigned  the B.C.I. Award , the I.B.S. Award  and the  U.B.I. sponsor Plate judged  respectively  by the B.C.I. President  Mr. Thomas Elias, by  the  I.B.S. Istructor  Mr. Ezio Piovanelli  and by the U.B.I. Board member  Mr. Antonio Conte.  Here are  some photos of awarded ,among the astonished and the satisfied.


Thomas Elias awards a deeply moved  Mrs. Luciana Queirolo for her stone “Promised land” winner of the A.I.A.S. Trophy   and of the B.C.I. Award.

  First time  for Mrs. Laura Monni, receiving  the award  for the best "Multi Stand".
  Mr. Igor Carino  receives the award for the best “Landscape stone”
Mrs. Daniela Schifano withdraws  the award for the best “Stone to admire”  for account  of her Bonsai Club of Roman Castles   Also this year  Mr. Giuseppe De Vita  proves himself winner of the Biseki category, withdraws the award Mr. Sergio Bassi.    Mrs. Daniela Schifano  receives  the award of the best   Object stone. 
First price in the Patter stone  category  for the Vietnam member  Mr. Ninh Huu Hiep, withdraws  the award Mrs. Daniela Schifano.   Mr. Primangelo Pondini  receives  the Plate of the  U.B.I. sponsor  by the Board member
Mr. Antonio Conte.
  Mrs. Daniela Schifano withdraws the I.B.S. award  from the judge Mr. Piovanelli  for account of Mr.  Ninh Huu Hiep

On Sunday morning ,  survived to the torrential  rain water we were ready  to face the fed program :  we start  with the  much expected  lecture of  Mr. Massimo Bandera,   concentrated  on one of the three volumes  published  in  1986 by the founder  of the Keido School, Mr. Ichiu Katayama,  devoted to the exhibition  in a tokonoma of bonsai, of suiseki and of Kusamono. To better  illustrate  the tokonomas  of the volume devoted to suiseki , the engagement of Massimo has been impressive: the volume in facts  has the test in Japanese and Massimo has done his best  to have  them translated  in Italian. The oratorical  glamour  of  Massimo Bandera, whom I should  stay listening for  hours  for the extent of his knowledge , has done the balance, capturing  the full attention  of the audience.

“The concept through which  to hear the poetry  of the nature  goes  through  a stone,  exactly like with the bonsai; however the bonsai  grows  every day  showing entirely the season  with his growing, the flowers , the fruits , the cold ect. an evident beauty.  The suiseki does not change in decades nor in centuries , it does not change the shape, the substance , the colour, therefore  it has to be excellent from at once, and from the four facades which have to be balanced. Also the  base  shall have  a certain  harmony , thickness and shape
YOO-seki , where  YOO  is to nourish, as mochikomi   for the bonsai  , a daily action , namely  to touch the stone , so the beauty is drawn out.. For  the suiseki people should not enjoy of the shape only but also of its fitting where people can really understand  and enjoy  of the secret  beauty  of the stone and taste its extreme poetry.

For this also the paintings  are important, the suibans, the sands and one should  have knowledge  of its element  and to be able to display  in order  to create composition which let people feel every element of the nature  in a stone. With this book I comment the way to fit the tokonoma  following the rules of suiseki.“

In addition with the lecture  Mr. Massimo Bandera has  honoured the Convention  exhibiting out of contest a precious  and ancient    “Sun Flower stone”  displayed in the Fuji Sato Museum . Its name is “The garden of the mountain among bonsai and suiseki”   and measures  22 x10 x 20 cm. . It belonged  to Mr. Tatsuyuki Ishiwatari and was  published  as awarded on the  November 2003 number  of the Nippon Suiseki Association.

Through  the education  of Katayama-san , we have learnt  how it is important  to create a setting  as much as adherent  to the stone and to its poetry. But we all know  how difficult  it is to find the suited objects  to accompany  our stones,  up to the point  that sometimes one is prepared to renounce.
The meeting with Mr. Sergio Biagi and Mr. Andrea Terinazzi, also if they could not exhaust  the argument, has furnished  some  practical  and prompt solutions  to our exhibition  problems.

Mr. Sergio Biagi  since many years creates  tables  for bonsai  and suiseki  in addition to  be an expert bonsaist. Paying attention  to the demand  of his friends keen of suiseki, he has recently tested  himself  in the sector of    doban  production  , the bronze trays, of very hard finding,  on which to exhibit  a suiseki.
The synergy with the Pietrasanta foundry, which have a considerable experience  in the sector  of bronze productions works , Sergio has started  from a wooden model  projected and realized by him, for after testing  in foundry  the various techniques  which lead  to the finished object, patinated or not .  The advantages are various :  surely the cost is lower to that of Japanese brothers  but over all  people have the possibility to obtain  the measures  and finish fit  to the stone  and to the displaying season. 



To follow, with Mr. Andrea Terinazzi the  problems  relating to the tempai, small bronze object, also them of Japanese origin,  which in an exhibition  can form the accompanying  object  in place of the shitakusa.
Andrea has put his working experience  as goldsmith to the service of the creation of these small objects. Starting from a stamp and after adding the smallest particulars  he realizes  these small masterpieces of which what hits most  is the expressivity . Andrea  has in fact  kept himself  bound to explain  that some time the creative cue  starts  from the observation  of realty, while at times, a purchaser  asks to realize a well determined  article .
Also in this case  the advantage is that to have under home  or about an artist  who can give life to what is necessary for an exhibition : in fact here is no end to the varieties of objects among which to choose, always in respect  of the Japanese tradition.

Early in the afternoon  the last much expected  didactic  moment  of the Congress : the comment on exhibited suiseki  by the judge Mr. Thomas Elias.  His availability  has been praiseworthy: he has commented all stones in exhibition , giving a sense  to exclusions and awards, evidencing deficiencies and merits and giving a score to every stone, a score from 1 to 10 , a direct and prompt system  to evaluate a stone in its whole. His preliminary remark , in any case, has been a reason of great satisfaction : he said to be favourably impressed by the quality of stones, much higher to that of other exhibitions abroad , and from the daiza  manufacture  built with a hard wood which in America is not used.
In conclusion , using his words: “ An exhibition  of very high level”.

The member Mr. Pietro Prudentino  is waiting  for the evaluation of his own stone , while Mr. Elias is watching it carefully.
The comprehension  of the judge’s words  has been possible  by the punctual translation made by the member  of the Napoli Bonsai Club Mr. Arturo Lazzaris  whom we thank for  his  very good knowledge of the English language  and for his availability.

We have learnt much in this Congress, perhaps one of the best successful in absolute.  As conclusion , I think is right to mention the words of Mr. Sergio Bassi, which are also mine and I think of all members:
“This year I have avidly looked for and found the cues , suggestions, emotions from your stones and from your fittings which have enriched  my small personal education. For people , as me,   looking  for this , I think  that the exhibition  was overflowing  of notions  and if I have found them , it will say that it was sufficient to look for them and that they  were at disposal within everyone. I thank you all whom I embrace  one by one, I thank you and I reserve  since now the rendezvous  for the next Congress”.
Almost boxes and thoughts  have not yet been put away , and we are already projected  towards what will offer us our next meeting !  Therefore good-bye soon,  after all only one year is missing !         

 Daniela Schifano

As always I close with a dutiful bow …..  the classic acknowledgement  to the winning stone of the A.I.A.S. Trophy 2015,  which has been granted to the landscape stone of  italian origin  exhibited by the our President Mrs. Luciana Queirolo.

A.I.A.S. Trophy 2015

"Promised land"

Landscape Stone

of Mrs. Luciana Queirolo