Can you believe High Point Market is upon us yet again? It seems like it was just yesterday that we were basking in the glow of new Currey & Company releases last fall! More than 200 new products and all of the bonsai that ornaments them will be unveiled on Friday, April 21, which is preview day at Market, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. And given the advance look I’ve had, we all have reason for ample excitement! The showroom will be open from April 20th through April 26th, so stop by at IHFC M110 on Main Street and say hello.
Currey & Co Events During High Point
There are events aplenty, of course, including the release of The Bunny Williams Collection on Saturday, April 22, from 3 to 5 p.m. I’ll be giving you a sneak peak of this new line and a quick highlight of the events this month, as we will have the big reveal in three weeks, just before we all convene. The Potterton Pop-Up Shop will be back by popular demand along with book signings, James Swan’s podcasts, and the normal flow of lively music and libations,
Today, we’ll spend more time with one of the ever-present stars of Currey & Company’s #HPMkt gatherings, the veritable grove of Bonsai trees sprinkled throughout the showroom. I’ve enjoyed seeing them each market so I asked CEO Brownlee Currey to fill us in as to how he initially became inspired to acquire his graceful forest in miniature and he didn’t disappoint. I share the details of his fascination with these sculptural trees after I give you a hit of product eye candy. Are you ready?
New High Point Products Sneak Peek
Here’s a taste of what you’ll see as we roll out the new releases next month, the lighting furniture and accessories new to our collections:
The Albertine chandelier in a gold leaf finish will debut during High Point Market in April 2017.
The Karlson screen covered in natural vellum and hand-painted with a pattern in caviar black will also debut during High Point Market in April 2017.
Debuting during High Point Market in April 2017 is the Carmen chandelier in a silver Granelo finish.
The Ginza table lamp, which will debut during High Point Market in April 2017, is made of terra cotta and finished with a black and tan pattern.
The Sagamore lantern in satin black and contemporary gold finishes is a new release during High Point Market in April 2017.
The Currey & Company Bonsai Tradition
Wrapping back around to the leafy celebrities in Currey & Company’s High Point showroom, which Brownlee and Robert Currey care for between markets, I asked Brownlee about his initial draw to these small wonders: “Japan and Japanese culture fascinated me early on, from the time when I was about eleven or twelve. Toys, especially giant robots, and then anime fixated me initially, but that brought me to other things; sushi for example, and interest in other traditional cultural arts.”
These cultural explorations led him to bonsai but not without a little nudge: “My mother, being more than clever, gifted me with bonsai lessons for Christmas one year, which lasted for six or eight weeks the following spring; and that was it, I was hooked! My interest in bonsai took a detour in the latter years of high school and college, but my father kept many of the trees alive. When I moved back to Atlanta in 2001, he and I started working on plants again. When I finally traveled to Japan four years ago, my interest was renewed deeply.”
Seeing the professional gardens there changed his perspective on what is possible with these trees, he noted, adding, “There is such a difference in reading about something and looking at pictures versus seeing it for oneself. Visiting the master’s gardens and exhibitions like the Kokufu has been an enormous influence, as these excursions have expanded my ideas of what is possible with proper care, and have allowed me to study in detail what might be achieved.” This video, which Brownlee shared on his Facebook page, is nicely representative of the passion that those who work with bonsai share:
“As of now, we are midway through what I view as a five- or six-year process of re-working our trees, applying concepts and techniques learned in Japan to our American plant material,” he remarked. “Developing an understanding that tree health trumps everything has really changed my approach, as has witnessing first-hand the detailed application of technique at the master’s gardens.”
Brownlee remarked that he uses the words “we” and “our” when discussing bonsai for a reason—that’s because without Robert’s support, the project would not be what it is today. “The trees spend their days on my father’s farm where he has farm-hands who can assist with the daily chore of watering. Without his efforts, we would not have much of a collection; that we get to work on it together is very important to both of us—bonsai affords a creative outlet that is disconnected from western aesthetics and from our culture of immediate gratification.”
The exposure to the trees has also had an impact on him philosophically: “As modern Americans, we engage in very few tasks that are governed by the seasons or which require many years. Understanding that these projects may never be complete, as trees are living things, or that they might require more time than I have in my lifetime is very appealing. I’m only at the beginning of my understanding of Japanese aesthetics, but learning how to build a composition without the use of symmetry has altered my perspective on how one can achieve balance in design. The marriage of the seasonal, yet never-ending, nature of bonsai practice, along with the inklings of wabi-sabi and the opportunity to experience yugen make bonsai a very singular experience for me.”
As a salute to the depth of Brownlee’s encounters with bonsai, I end this post with a poem by a singular talent, Edith Tiempo, the first lady of Philippine poetry:
All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.
All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment—
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son’s note or Dad’s one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.
It’s utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart’s control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size
Till seashells are broken pieces
From God’s own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.
I look forward to seeing everyone in High Point. Let’s all choose our favorite bonsai this market, shall we? We can call it the #GreatCurreyBonsaiCaper!
Saxon Henry also blogs as The Modern Salonnière.