A.I.A.S. Exhibition and Congress - 2018 Edition


19-21 October 2018


National Suiseki Exhibition

Tepidarium Roster - Florence

National A.I.A.S. Congress 2018  

Report by Mrs.Daniela Schifano - Photo by Mr. Paco Donato, Mrs. Daniela Schifano - Translation edited by Mr. Marco Petruzzelli


After the “Winter nature in Florence” exposition, the A.I.A.S. suiseki returns once in the Florence Tepidarium Roster, that seems a mix of gracefulness and severity, soft light and  levity, a place where stone hardness translates in a dream.

The event has been organized by the A.T.A.B.S. “Associazione Toscana Amatori Bonsai e Suiseki” with the sustain of the Florence Environmental municipal office, promoting oriental nature art forms has Bonsai and suiseki in a city that could be itself defined as an "artistic opera". The delegate city council member Alessia Benedetti said: “After the great success obtained by the first edition of the suiseki exposition in the Roster historical Greenhouse of the Horticulture gardens here in Florence, the place gratefully hosts again the exposition promoting one of the less known oriental naturalistic forms of art."

Roster Tepidariun, named by its designer architect Roster built in 1880

This “crystal palace” (has defined by a local reporter on the local journal “La Nazione” during 1880) extends for 165 square meters. Originally it was used as a winter heated Greenhouse, but until the beginning was been also used as an exposition palace between 1887 and 1911 when after the International Floriculture Council promoted by the 50° commemoration of Italian republic foundation, all the garden started a slow decline. During 1930 due the failure of the Tuscany agriculture group, all the green area was acquired by the city of Florence that brought to new life all the extent as a city public garden, but leaving the great tepidarium by Roster totally abandoned. Only after the 2013 the Victorian greenhouse was totally restored and restituted to its original use.


It is the second time that I expose a suiseki collection in the Tepidarium entering in something difficult to be explained, out of the daily life, caused by the building that stills firm and constrained but creating a fairy feeling.
The Tepidarium is borne as a heated winter greenhouse transforms itself in a refugee from observers between the flovers plant and colors, as a refugee for our souls. Older greenhouse were still built by walls but in Victorina age the technology progress allow to obtain the modern concept of a greenhouse, constituted by iron and glass, reflecting new concept of levity of construction and of thoughts. A closed place that still opened the sun light feeding the plants and joining together land ant the sky. The first exposition in January donates the tepid light reflexes of the greenhouse during winter this one exploiting during October donates the diffuse light of the Florentine climate, incrementing the sensation to be suspended in the light blue and limpid sky.

The tokonoma distribution and shape designed by the ATABS helped to give levity to something that normally results naturally heavy: the stone in its material consistence accomplished to stone appreciation lovers  imagination. Common guess squares best frame for a suiseki in a traditional japanese tokonoma, purchasing the suiseki of suggestion for the observer without jacket it. Creating a great exposition fitting in a public space still difficult for logistics and security problems. And Tepidarium Roster responds perfectly to logistics and emotional aspects: secure but open spaced to light, awareness and thoughts.
    Outside and inside : the Tepidarium Roster



The congress brought a breath of refresh in the organization, for the first time the exposition was purchased in tree days and not in two, dedicating a specific session by Mr. Paco Donato to photograph all the stones singularly and in their tokonoma, working also to improve the show catalogue quality. The other great refresh has been the recalibration of the number of the awards eliminating 7 prizes and adopting a formula never proposed in an Italian suiseki or bonsai congress. This innovative award formula was approved during the previous assembly and newly approved in Florence assembly.

President of the Viewing Stone Association of North America, Mr. Thomas Elias was designed as judge to the 80 participating stones signing first the best in show A.I.A.S. price, second giving 3 worth mansions and third assigning one prize for each stone category.  Still not enough? It is a first step, unique perhaps in Italy.



In the picture our great guest and A.I.A.S. honorary associate Dr. Thomas Elias and his wife Hiromi Nakaoj, also judge for the 2015 and 2016 Congress. VSANA  website (Viewing Stone Association of North America) showed on its pages many Italian stones belonging to different lithologies than most known Palombino. Dr. Elias is working to divulgate the art of stone appreciation following Japanese, Chinese or American stylistics and recently publishing a new book arguing about a new contemporaneous style of exposition, less connected to the oriental tradition. Many of the stones exposed in the last Florence Congress was exposed in this new optic has been greatly appreciated by the American master.

Show numbers: 80 stones, 56 exposers, 34 landscape stones, 21 object stones, 6 shelves, 12 stones to admire, 7 biseki and pattern stones. The tokonoma was built up with different proportions and has been assigned to the participants in base of the dimension of the stones and characters of their accessories as tables, scrolls or exposition geometry.

Three stones were out of competition : the first from Kamuikotan typical of Hokkaido island and belonging to Dr. Elias, the second a multiple table from the associate Mr. Santo Buratto, as an homage to Mrs. Hiromi, and the third a landscape stone belonging to Mr. Carlo Laghi exposed has memorial of the friend Mr. Felix Rivera. These are the three stones out of competition:

Mr. Santo Buratto
Hiromi. A flower along the way, the step becomes lighter" Italy (Piave River), China

Mr. Thomas Elias
"Family Unity"

Mr. Carlo Laghi
"After the storm - Remembering Felix"
Italy (Liguria)

Starting from 2005 the Suiseki master Felix Rivera accepted to describe and evaluate different stones of Italian collectors and publish its evaluation and technical description on the A.I.A.S. journal.

This is the case of the stone from Mr. Carlo Laghi that in the congress of 2005 arrived as second classified between the landscape stones and received an evaluation by the master from a lithological point of view but also from a poetical prospective, the master defined it “isle showing high cascades and tormented by roaring waves” and his words have sided today to the stone in memory of its experience.

During the comment by Mr. Elias on the stones on display, the judge added that it is very important to have the official review of an expert, this is a document that increases the value of this stone.


An excerpt:

“Stone texture is complex, with gray material areas cut by the quartz intrusions, that produces a feast for the eyes. The web of the channels that gives dynamic aspect to the suiseki. This stone seems quite shiny, and we must pay great attention to avoid use of materials or creams able to shine up the stone surface, this expedient in most cases transforms the stone skin has plastic aspect and feeling.”

The Congress days were opened Friday afternoon with the opening ceremony conducted by  Mrs. Simona Hirsch, president of ATABS, and by Mrs. Luciana Queirolo, A.I.A.S. president with the interview by Mr. Thomas Elias cutting the ribbon in company of Dr. Alessia Bettini and Dr. Fabrizio Ricci, both from the public administration of Florence.
  Saturday morning the program followed the conference by Mrs. Silvia Orsi, author of the book "Piante spontanee - Shitakusa e Kusamono" that also commented the stone-plant association with the optic of an expert botanic and exposition specialist. Our meetings are always a give and take, which enriches us while we listen and she tells the emotions experienced in front of our stones, also perceived through the use of the accompanying elements chosen by the exhibitor.
The conference “Suiseki, Shitakusa, Tenpai: different Japanese arts meeting each other”: commented of the different exposition way, arguing about all the side element in a suiseki exposition comparing suggestion of plants respect the use of tenpai. Our meetings are always a give and take, which enriches us while we listen and she tells the emotions experienced in front of our stones, also perceived through the use of the accompanying elements chosen by the exhibitor.
Some companion elements for suiseki exposition
  During the saturday afternoon Mr. Edoardo Rossi author of the book "Kazari, l'arte di esporre bonsai e suiseki“ conducted an informal presentation with the title “Suiseki exposition, shape, discipline, Indulgence and feeling” He started asking the motivation why to expose in public a viewing stone, explaining the reasons why a human appreciates a stone end explaining great esthetic concepts of harmony an symmetry of the oriental philosophy being helped by book references and by music examples.
Saturday evening during the gala dinner, the prize ceremony and a lottery, where the associate exchange each other some piece of their collection, took place. At the side of the A.I.A.S. prizegiving other tree prizes has been assigned, the first was the I.B.S. prize assigned by the IBS instructor and member of the direction board of ESA Mr. Marco Petruzzelli, the second was the UBI prize assigned by Mr. Igor Carino representing ESA and EBA, and the third was the B.C.I. Excellence Award for Suiseki assigned by the Ambassador of the BCI and vice president of ESA Mr. Vito Di Venere.  Here some pictures of the winners and of the representing prizes.

Mr. Carlo Laghi picks the A.I.A.S.Trophy instead Mr. Attilio Valdifiori from Mr. Thomas Elias

  Mr. Ettore Gardini pick the prize of the better Landscape stone.


Mr. Emilio Capozza pick the prize of the better Object stone

Prize for the best multiple table to the Amatori Bonsai Suiseki di Genova, picked from Mr. Giorgio Rosati
  Mr. Sergio Bassi pick the prize of the better
Stone to admire
  Happiness in the face of Mr. Amedeo Ducoli for the best Patter stone

The only present winner of a mention, Mr. Umberto Ziniti receives the prize by Mr. Thomas Elias. The I.B.S. instructor Marco Petruzzelli gives the I.B.S. prize to Mr.Andrea Terinazzi, receiving it in the name of Mr. Bartolomeo Corsini   Mr. Ettore Gardini receives one more prize receiving the B.C.I. Excellence Award for his landscape stone, gives the prize Mr.Vito Di Venere.

The picture is a greeting to all the A.T.A.B.S. club, for the valuable support given in organizing this Congress. The location, the sometimes complicated relationships with the bureaucracy of the municipality of Florence, the furnishings, the logistical problems, the continuous support before, during and after were thanks to the precious and sometimes obscure work of all the members of the club.
In particular thanks to ATABS president Mrs. Simona Hirsch, thanks to Mr. Valerio Giannini for the maps, thanks to Mr. Andrea Terinazzi for the bronze souvenir plate, a unique work created and donated to Mr. Thomas Elias, thanks to Mr. Sergio Bassi.
Without the stones of AIAS members the location was only an empty shell...”, Simona Hirsch said.
But I answer: “Without a container, each content still potential”,  because the form is not an accessory, but the necessary condition for the content to manifest itself to us. The ATABS club is already working on another important commitment: the organization of the next U.B.I. Congress, in March 2019, in the prestigious "Limonaia" of Villa Strozzi. Also the visit by the  president U.B.I. Mr. Fabio Mantovani, indicates, in my opinion, an increased synergy between the national associations and the activities of local clubs, without which nothing could be achieved. And in this sense, the ATABS club is becoming one of the most active in Italy.

  Sunday was dedicated to the conference of  Mr. Thomas Elias: explaining the Chinese way to appreciate stones “Chinese Stone appreciation, ancient and modern examples” then the master during the afternoon exposed the characteristics of the prizewinning stones and of who wants a comment on his exposition. This aspect has been greatly appreciated by who was present to understand the motivation of the judge of the exposition and to learn which limit must be reached to improve a stone exposition.
The A.I.A.S. Assembly confirmed after discussion once a time the actual prize order during the different congress. Than the president Luciana Queirolo announced the invitation of the AIAS association to the next Arco di Trento 2019 Exhibition, where a full room will be dedicated to suiseki exposition.

The last words to synthesize this event was said by Mrs. Laura Segna: “From the graceful Florence, where excels masters sculpted great stones exalting landscapes and art galleries, we expose on simple tables natural stones that for us seems like jewels and from them we obtain serenity and messages from fairy places” 
a wish and at the same time a beautiful synthesis of our experience.

 Mrs. Daniela Schifano

I conclude with a right and proper bow... the classical recognition to the A.I.A.S. 2018 Trophy awarded stone, assigned to an Italian landscape presented by the member Mr. Attilio Valdifiori.

A.I.A.S. Trophy  2018

A.I.A.S. Trophy 2018
to Landscape Stone presented by
Attilio Valdifiori