posted on 25 Sep 2022
We were lucky enough to spend a day with bonsai artist Mauro Stemberger as part of a client’s commission for a bonsai gallery.
We travelled to Italy to measure and assess the bonsai, as we would any other work of art. It was our first time working with bonsai and the comparisons for display and maintenance were similar to that of any sculpture.
Each piece needs room to breathe, literally and for aesthetics. While they can be viewed in the round one side is shaped to be the front, as you’d selected your favourite side of a sculpture. This side we will keep parallel to our display plinths. Just like a sculpture ensuring the right lighting is also crucial, not just visually but also for the plant’s health. Shadows in the wrong area can ruin the plants growth, not just the look of it. Like a marble or wood carving, shadows can help add depth, but if the wrong kind of light is used this can have damaging effects on the materials used.
Like cleaning a sculpture the bonsai need pruning to help keep a tight form. Feeding them every few months as you would need to rewax or patina a sculpture over time to keep it looking “healthy”
It was interesting to hear that as we would fix a sculpture to its base, hiding the mount, the bonsai have their own mounting system cleverly hidden within the soil. Wire is used around their roots to anchor them to the pot.
Humidity control is vital to help the preservation of an artefact on display. The bonsai have their own environmental control needs. Our mounts and plinths must ensure there is a gap around the base of the pot for roots to breath and drainage for water. Not quite the humidity control we are used to within museums but being already aware of this factor means we can help the health of the plant.
How you display any artform is crucial, living or otherwise, and it was great to see how our skills can be used to help show off and preserve these stunning pieces.
Find our more about Mauro’s work here