In Conversation with Kevin Wilson about Bonsai

What I have here Kevin Wilson Grand Master of carving and Aesthetics and Bonsai Here at Harris he is teaching our staff Some of the finer points of bonsai Aesthetics and we've done some beautiful Things so this is an example of uh what He has done yesterday This is going to be a three-part video We did this yesterday so you see this in Two parts how we cut down a four foot High tree and brought it down to about Say not even 60 centimeter high so this Is a powerful looking tree but I'm not Going to talk about this tree we're Going to talk about Bonsai generally Because I have been in the Bonsai game for Almost 60 years I started fiddling with Bonsai in 1967 and I got serious in Bonsai in 74 and then during the 70s and 80s I was very much involved in the Bonsai club scene I don't know what Your history is but I first came across Kevin at the Birmingham International Bonsai convention that the Federation of British Bonsai societies organized and I Was struck by that beautiful formal Upright Jewel for which Kevin is very Famous and I've never forgotten it since In the Bonsai World different people do Different things I run my business as a Commercial Venture which has to be Successful otherwise you go under so I

Do a bit of everything I teach a little Bit I grow trees I sell trees and that's How I make my living There are other people who are teachers They teach and because they are able to Teach and have the skill they do that Thing I think Kevin falls into that Category so Kevin has also seen I've Seen Kevin's trees what 32 or so years Ago so he's been probably doing Bonsai Even longer maybe more than 32 so we Will have a general chat about Bonsai so First of all We have seen a lot of bonsai in the UK And it has evolved and changed so what Is it that you find satisfying with Bonsai because in my case I gave up a Nine to five job to run a Bonsai Nursery And now you must be also fascinated by Bonsai to make it almost your career so Can you tell us something yeah well I've Never lost the interest in Bonsai yet Yeah I've lost interest in a lot of Things in my life here but Bonsai isn't One of them enduring interest oh I mean You know it's just Um you know people come to me to my Workshop yeah and bring these trees that Are like a natural puzzle You'd never lose interest in one of them Never you know it's uh it's been Enduring yeah all the way through you Know from the age of 17 you know all the Way to now oh you know so um yeah and a

Lot of people like I say people come to Me Um it's got a lot better now yeah Because people bring much better stock Here to me uh to to be worked on and It's the natural puzzle yeah that I like About it yeah it's actually you know I You know I can't if I go to bed right Here and I haven't got the absolute Front and a tree you know I toss and Turtles you know and sometimes I go out In a workshop at three o'clock in the Morning yeah to get the front correct You know I mean it's uh yeah it's so it Is impression isn't it it's a passion It's a passion so the ones I've seen Okay I only know the UK bottles I've Seen I don't travel abroad very much I Have traveled to United States a couple Of times uh I go back to India a lot Because I upon there I love the Indian People but you have traveled the world You know the international Bonsai scene I look at the international scene from Afar and of course I see my bonsai Customers on the nursery and of course In the last few years through YouTube I Get feedback from that so how do you Think the bonds I've seen is developing Now because it has moved a lot in the Last 50 or 60 years isn't it the more People into Bonsai and of course there Is of course the club scene and then not Everyone belongs to clubs a lot of

People do it on their own they like to Do it and of course in my own case a lot Of beginners start doing it they do Drift into the clubs so How would you advise the person who is Getting involved in Bonsai how to go About Bonsai you know Well I think the first thing yeah I mean If you join a club yeah yes you have That advanced experience uh the people That have come to the top of the club Yeah that have been here for me they can Share the experience it's a stepping Stone thing yeah you know okay and that They can hand their knowledge down and It's probably a good thing to do to join The club yeah and then there's other People who are Mavericks who don't wish To do that you know and um you know and If they want to advance themselves Immediately yeah you have to go to a Teacher like me yeah you know and come And do lessons Um so there are two ways that you can Move forward in Bonsai for sure and the Other thing is you know when we were Talking about it yeah Um like Richard there you know I mean Richard started with you yeah yeah and Um and most of the people I teach have Done lessons with you at some point Um so you know that's a good thing as Well there's Nursery men that teach as Well you know so okay good that's

Another way yes I've never been Bothered whether you called me a master Or just a plain ordinary Gardener you Know as long as I'm making something Useful and doing something useful giving People pleasure I think we tend to Forget do you not agree that when people Get too serious on anything they lose The pleasure of it absolutely yeah I Think so why do you think that is I just Think that you know as you master the Art form The ego does come yeah you can't help it Here because people are praising you up All the time in anything yeah then you End up you know believe in your own hype Yeah you know and then it becomes Serious yeah you know but it usually Happens when you're younger yeah as you Get older and mellow yeah it doesn't Matter like a good boy and it doesn't Matter you know I mean you know you you Grow grow humility yeah winter in the Trees I think you know you know it's an Honor to be able to no don't say that no It's not a it's not it's so to to even Touch a tree here isn't it yeah you know You know so okay yeah but uh again uh I Think the British Bonsai scene has Evolved so much because I told you I Started getting involved with clubs in 1974 and in the mid 80s up to the uh Early 90s the Bonsai scene was very Vibrant you know there was a lot of good

Spirit in the club but somehow that Spirit has I don't know whether it has Fragmented or got lost losses where I Think their Natural Evolution you know Different people set up different groups I don't look at it in a bad way but as Long as there's not a bad element now I'm always a very Frank person I don't Beat around the bush I don't try to Camouflage things if I see something I Will speak out about it and I feel that There is too much what they call Politics right there's no point trying To run away from it you know there's Politics and everything yeah absolutely So yeah whether it's in dance Canary Birds dogs Bonsai there's politics So well it's inevitable it's inevitable You know I mean the one of one of the Worst Vibes I've ever felt yet is an rhs Flower arranging tent yeah you know what I mean back in back in the 80s year I Walked in there it was palpable you know I mean you could feel it yeah you know What I mean you know it does get like They're vegetable growing I mean people Destroy them Go around and Destroy people's marrows So it does get like that a little bit You know what I mean but um so what what Does your answer to about just having Fun yeah when you do the Bonsai yeah Having fun yeah we're just talking yeah Yeah Kevin has been here for two days

And yesterday we had such a brilliant Day isn't it not making nice Bonsai like This I took Kevin to see these two four And a half thousand year old use one Across one at Dandridge you absolutely Taken away I mean my God yeah you know I Mean it's um You know I mean I do know these things Exist you you know what I mean but Actually when you're standing in front Of one of those things that gives you The inspiration oh my God the feeling I Got from standing in front of that tree And grow horse was was unbelievable you Know I could feel it from my toes to the Top of my head you know you know they're The things I want to create you know if I can yeah so that's the inspiration for Bonsai is that we tend to forget that Yeah you were saying it started off Visiting uh not making the Bonsai then Visiting these ancient Jews and then we Had this lovely evening where we were Watching football the World Cup games And we had a brilliant dinner and we had So much fun with other friends so this Really I remember back in the 70s and 80s there was that sort of camaraderie You know yeah yeah with some I don't Know whether we are mixing in the wrong Circles It should exist and this is what it was It's about funness it's about fun it's About having fun yeah so let us not

Forget that Bonsai is about having fun Once you lose the fun of it uh I keep Trying to remind people on YouTube Videos it is all about enjoyment of fun No wonder no wonder people get upset When they get too uptight about it you Say my tree is better than yours however Humble a person is true is people send Me photographs of their trees what do You think of this uh Master Channel I Don't like to be called Masters man you Know you know they're all nice you feel Nice about it he's created something Isn't it that is not what it's about Absolutely yeah and everybody's got a Different skill set you know I mean you Know maybe they can't imagine you yes uh You know on the tree what they imagine In the head you know Um you know but they make perfectly Adequate trees and if they're happy with You yeah that's right there's no reason Why anyone should criticize them you Know what I mean you know if they want To go forward and they want to do Advanced bonds so yeah you know what I Mean they'll take another pathway yes so All right you know and of course you are Famous for your carving skills uh that's Only one the overall border size skills Is the most important thing but your Carving skills are almost legendary so What are your views about carving Because a lot of people when they're new

To Bonsai they don't go into carving Then the next step is carving uh you Know they can get obsessed what would You advise a person to do when they get Into car yeah I would say you know don't Be obsessed about the carving yet you Know the thing is right yeah what it Allows us to do here is work on a vast Range of materials and that's the only Thing here that it does yeah you know I Mean if you look at the tree in Crowhurst yet you know what I mean That's Nigeria you can't replicate that Yet but you can assimilate yeah to a Certain degree and Um you know and that's what it did for Me yeah it allowed me I didn't have much Money when I started you Um so you know I could take stamps yeah And and make very good Treasure by Making dead wood yeah but Deadwood for The sake of Deadwood yeah yeah because Don't you think that in Bonsai people Are not carving just for this oh yeah Yeah there's there's a lot of Deadwood For the sake of Deadwood yeah you know I Mean it is needy yeah like this one yeah Where they would just uh cut the top Yeah and you needed to finish them off Somewhere yet this is a good way to do It yeah but yeah people get obsessed With it yeah you know what I mean it's Uh I think the reason they get obsessed With it is it's immediate

Where you know some of the things you've Done and I've done have taken years Come old men yeah you know I mean before You know we've reached uh the zenithia Where that tree is going to be and uh And Carlton what is immediate so it's Something you can do in Bonsai it's Amazing I think that's why people are so Obsessed with it at the moment yeah so So for because a lot of our viewers are Starting out in Bonsai there's some more Advanced people what is their advice or What advice should they take on board to Advance advancement get enjoyment or Whatever what you think with the Calvin Yeah well I mean what the way I did it Yeah was I went out and took photographs Of dead we'd like the trees yeah in Crowhurst yeah yeah and I asked you Yesterday here to take still photographs Of certain areas of the tree well I'll Use those photographs yeah uh you know I'll I'll take them back and that's what I did I used to you know print out a Piece of Deadwood pin it to the wall Yeah on my cork board and then copy here On the tree you know that's the biggest Teacher his name to you yeah it's like Dan Robinson said you know you have to Become a student of Nature and I think That's what you have to do yeah that Would be my advice become a student of Nature yeah look at all the nuances on a Tree you know you know you know if

They're writing from the ground if a Woodpecker spoon of them if it is been Of them have been struck by lightning You can just take all those things in Okay A little word of advice how would a Person who was fairly new to bonds are Advanced in Bonsai apart from learning Wiring skills and other skills one of The things they should look to do well I Think it's a it's about the ex the Ascetics yeah in the end if you want to Really Advance here you know you have to Start thinking about the ascetic and uh And that's the way forward you and like You know the things I was teaching you Know inclination and you know balance of Foliage and can that be taught A capital and you can uh you look at Picture books I mean the thing is yeah I Mean you know if you know start looking At some of the Japanese stuff yeah and Some of the you know the Masters we've Got in Europe now yeah you know you know Because there's a definite thing now Yeah with the with the Japanese and also The Chinese Yeah yeah it's not so much of engine Anymore it's become more more Japanese Yeah in the way yeah so there's no shame In copying or something that's how you Know I mean you know that's uh you know Plagiarism you that's what you have to Do you know it's like and then develop Yourself yeah I mean it's like me all

The students I get through the door here That you know I teach them this much Here and they always teach me this much You know so I always you know it's Always a two-way thing and then you pick Up those things and you know and then You use them down the line yeah you know So and yesterday we had a one of our Visitors and he was asking about Exhibitions you know what Josh in fact Our cameraman was asking about a thing He said he didn't want to get into Exhibitions because he feared the Politics of of that what are your views About exhibitions should people try and Exhibit as I think um you know the way I Think here is I try to every tree that Comes through my school Um I'm thinking about exhibiting it like This uh you know forget the politics That doesn't really matter you know if Someone gives you a platform to show the Trees in the right way you know with a Table with a scroll with an accent plan Yeah that's the ultimate yeah that's Where you're going yeah if you can think About that all the time you're only only For the stars and you might just hit the Moon you know so that's that's what my Benchmark is trying to even this one Yeah I'd love to see this an exhibition Here in 10 years time if I'm still Around you know so that's the Benchmark Basically yeah uh of course I have

Certain views about exhibition I don't Like awarding like best insure this is The best tree I would like to see a System where you'll reach a certain Standard you know yeah like maybe a gold Standard or you know something uh Standard rather than avoiding one best Stream because it's so subjective Whether a tree is the best to show or Whatever you think about that well I Mean you know now they're doing uh in Because like obviously we we know which Is the best treatment yeah we all walk In there right and everything yeah Everyone knows which is the best tree Yet Um I suppose yeah the pat on the back Here is a good thing but what they're Doing now is a lot of the shows are Doing um you know the Public's favorite Tree yes yeah you know I mean and that's Okay I think that's okay you know what I Mean it's uh and it's usually totally Different to the select the forests of Young trees you know five six year old Trees You know I mean the thing is it's um Yeah it's objective like you say yeah You know you know you know go down Rainbow you know I mean you know when You know it's crazy isn't it you know But I know what you're saying yeah that Could probably cause the most a problem But just just getting into the shows I

Mean oh I do remember yeah I mean you Know when it when I actually won the new Lenders award yeah I felt very proud I Have to say yeah because the tree I Collected the tree I styled the tree Yeah put it in exhibition and won and That's why I felt proud yeah the fact That I'd done the whole process from Beginning to end Um so that it was really nice I have to Say you again though so I mean it is a Good thing yeah because it does What it does here is you know you've got The best tree there and that's a Standard Benchmark something to to aim To him for so if then it's publicly Announced that that's the best tree then That's a good thing I think yeah but the Politics do start because yeah there's No doubt about it All right so well thank you very much For coming here Kevin and thank you for Letting us share this on YouTube because I love to spread knowledge my philosophy In life as I get older is that knowledge Is a human Birthright we shouldn't try And keep it to ourselves you know you Should pass it on absolutely you are Doing I'm doing so long may this Continue and again thank you for this Interview and I hope people will enjoy It no thank you before we finish uh I Um showed you my book so This is the butterfly master class which

I've given you and Richard one each but That's right I also would like to give You a little plug for our Nursery our Hands There you go hurt I'll store here Richard Richard is a very humble person Silent but he does marvelous you know Quality work doing the wiring so Richard I've known for almost 30 years so thank You both for coming and I hope you Enjoyed this video thank you for having Me yeah thank you for having us please Foreign [Music]

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