Stones at the 2018 Combined European Conventions.

Text and photos by Daniela Schifano



City of Arco and nearby Lake Garda in northern Italy.


For three decades, Arcobonsai Club Garda Trentino has organized the Arcobonsai Exhibition, from May 4-6 in the Municipal Casino of Arco, together with the Arcofiori event, exhibition-market of nursery gardening and local products arrived at the 20th edition. This weekend event took on an important European significance because it hosted the European Bonsai Association (EBA), the European Suiseki Association (ESA) and the Italian Bonsai Association (UBI) conventions. There was a rich program and featured the world famous Japanese bonsai master Mr. Hotsumi Terakawa.

This ambitious project was born two years ago with the goal of bringing together 16 European nations in a one location, the small town of Arco in Trentino, Italy. Arco has always been known for its warm hospitable and welcoming visitors. It was an immense success with over 4,000 visitors admiring the 98 bonsai and 33 suiseki on display. European exhibitors displayed 41 trees and 22 stones, while the Italian exhibitions belonging to UBI brought 57 trees and 11 stones to this join convention. The program also included a judging process for the selection of European and Italian talent, and the assignment of the Arcobonsai Trophy with a competition between instructors representing European nations and that of 20 Italian bonsai clubs.


This Japanese stone displayed by Daniela Schifano was awarded first prize by the UBI, the IBS award, and the BCI Award of Excellence.


Japanese Setagawa stone by Yvonne Grubeck.


Santo Burratto displayed this attractive landscape stone.


Figure stone by Göbel Holger received the ESA award.


Ligurian stone by Luciana Quierolo



These numbers give a clear indication of the uniqueness and success of this event. Then there are the emotions of those who participated, who are born from seeing many friends, from meeting new ones, from being together for dinner at the same table and talking many different languages but all united under the sky of the same passion. Italy has tried to best accommodate European guests, organizing a welcome dinner in an original setting, sailing on Lake Garda in a large boat. The second evening, on the other hand, was more informal, in the classic "B & B & B style- Beer, Bonsai and Baraonda (festivities)", in which there is now the custom that each participant bring a gastronomic specialty such as cheeses, salami, liqueurs from their own region, to be tasted by everyone present.


All the bonsai and the suiseki exhibited at this convention will be published in the prestigious UBI Catalog "Best Bonsai and Suiseki 2018". Many suiseki were of European origin: Italy, particularly Liguria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, but also from Japan and China. The limited display space was not adequate for a good display of suiseki due to the large number of stones entered into the exhibition and the need to have them close to each other. The display was divided between two neighboring rooms.


The awards for suiseki were many and were presented by the respective judges from the ESA, UBI, IBS, AIAS and BCI. The ESA award was given to an original toad-shaped stone from the Gobi Desert exhibited by Mr. Holger Göbel from Germany. It was incredible for its resemblance. Two ESA President’s Awards went to the mountain stone "The dark side of the mountain" by Claudio Villa from Italy and a stone mountain of Mr. Carlo Guardigli from Italy. An ESA Nomination was presented to Mr. Santo Buratto from Italy for his landscape stone "Like a robin, a storm of leaves" that was found in Italy. The second Nomination went to a plateau stone of Mrs. Martina Vyhlidalova from Slovakia. The UBI first prize for suiseki was given to the danseki of Ms. Daniela Schifano from Italy who also received the IBS award and the BCI Award of Excellence. The UBI Mention was given to the mountain stone presented in an innovative doban, made in Cor-Ten, of Mr. Igor Carino from Italy. The second UBI Mention went to an imposing mountain stone of Mr. Claudio Villa from Italy. The AIAS plaque was assigned for UBI to a cascading stone of Italian origin, displayed by Mr. Riccardo Sorbino. An ESA plaque was presented to Mr. Igor Barta for his boat shaped stone displayed in a suiban. The AIAS President's Award was given to Mrs. Gudrun Benz for her stone.


Boat stone display by Igor Barta.



AIAS winning stone by Riccardo Sorbino


As an Italian, I liked very much to see the stones of ESA's European members, for the chance to see diverse types of stone from the typically Italian, almost always Ligurian stones… it was a beautiful trip!



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