His collection is quite eclectic and while he has no particular type of
rock he prefers, he enjoys finding rocks with naturally flat bases
rather than cutting them....much to the chagrin of other collectors.
Some of his collection will rotate on this site and as it extends to
over 2000 specimens, viewers will find something to interest them here.
Most of the Studio Photo's of Craig's Suiseki and other stones are by
Fay Yerbury. Craig has the Daizas made for most of his stones nowadays
by the wonderful
Sean Smith in Pennsylvania and other talented carvers such as
Tony Sarraceno in Oakland.
What is a Suiseki?
When I first started to collect stones in 1972 it was for my fish
tank. I discovered that some of these stones looked just like mountains.
These graced my Bonsai benches and many visitors to my Bonsai Garden
went away with a little piece of Barra in the Western Isles of Scotland.
The interesting thing is that when most Westerners start to collect
Suiseki they invariably like the mountain stones first and eventually
get on to the more aesthetic shapes later on.
Although I preferred a flat base I sometimes cut a little into the
base to 'flatten' it so that the stone could stand. Subsequently some of
my early stones are cut. I started looking for natural flat bases as the
problems of cutting were either that the cutter did not do exactly what
I wanted or they were becoming too expensive.
I still have some of my early cut stones and I occasionally buy cut
stones if I like the overall look of the piece but I now prefer only
natural flat based stones.
Today all my stones are naturally flat inasmuch as I do not cut any
stone I find. The fun for me is to find flat base stones that convey the
impression of the landscape I can understand and to have an equally nice
view from the back and even the sides. This reflects my philosophy in
Bonsai where I teach that you do not just have a front but also have a
Back, Sides and Front.
So if you want to get into my good books, bring me a nice flat based
stone that looks like a landscape from your country and I will give you
one from mine.
Note from a audio visual lecture prepared by Bill Jordan and spoken by
me included the following paragraph:
Oda Nobunaga (1534 -1582 )overthrew the Ashikaga
shogunate, was known to be an enthusiastic collector of both
Zen-inspired garden stones and miniature landscape stones. In one
incident, he is said to have sent a miniature landscape stone, named
"Eternal Pine Mountain" together with a fine tea bowl, in exchange for
the Ishiyama fortress
(currently the site of Osaka castle) in 1850.
There are many hundreds of other Suiseki throughout
this website. Please visit. Thank you to the many friends who also
allowed me to include some of their own wonderful stones on my pages.
Please note that no image can be duplicated on any other site without
express permission from Craig Coussins. All images are copyright.
A display of Suiseki and Gongshi from the
Coussins Collection: The Joy of Bonsai 2005, Bath England on the 7th
and 8th of May.
Craig Coussins has been collecting viewing stones since 1975 when he
was involved in a tropical fish shop in Scotland. The first stones he
collected came from Barra in the outer Hebrides and these were used in
the shops display tanks and were sold as ornamentation for his
customers. Craig had already been into Bonsai since 1971 and had seen
the rare mention of Susieki ion the available Japanese Books at that
time and he realised that the unique stones from Barra were indeed
like the mountain stones that he had seen. Over the next few years
Craig's Barra Stones found new homes in most of his friends
collections such as John Naka and the Nippon Suiseki Association . His
Suiseki have been exhibited in Japan at the Kokofu 10 where Suiseki
were sent to be exhibited ( being shown in the Photobooks produced for
this event) and many other places around the globe. They have been a
regular feature in the five best selling Bonsai Books that Craig has
written. Presently, Craig has a collection of over two thousand stones
covering most of the styles and concepts and while his main passion is
still Bonsai his stone collection continues to grow. His collecting
sites are in Italy, Africa, Canada, America, Australia, Spain, France,
China and of course the UK. Craig travels around the world most of
the year teaching Bonsai and promoting and collecting Suiseki on
his many trips when he can.
Imagine holding an entire mountain range in one hand? Used in
meditation to allow the mind to wander for a few moments, the art of
Susieki and Gongshi is indeed become very popular in the United
Kingdom as well as around the world. Gongshi are Chinese Scholars
stones because these were often seen in the collections of teachers
and scholars and used as an aid to meditation, they are becoming a
popular hobby once more in China as the country undergoes a
renaissance in discovery of its art history once again. Gongshi are
mainly abstract in shape and many things can be seen in the same stone
by different people. Susieki are viewing stones that have originated
as an art from Japan. For the past two thousand years the appreciation
of natural stones that look like objects, mountains , animals, boats
and landscapes have been part of the ancient cultures of China, Korea
and Japan. In the west the hobby has been steadily growing through
some leading collectors showing their own stones in major exhibitions
and museums. Some Scholars Stones and Susieki can change hands for a
few pounds or many thousands of pounds while there are some exquisite
Suiseki that have been sold in exceess of one million dollars and even
been exchanged for castles and lands.. Heady stuff for a stone.
" Oda Nobunaga (1534 -1582 )overthrew the
Ashikaga shogunate, was known to be an enthusiastic collector of
both Zen-inspired garden stones and miniature landscape stones. In
one incident, he is said to have sent a miniature landscape stone,
named "Eternal Pine Mountain" together with a fine tea bowl, in
exchange for the Ishiyama fortress (currently the site of Osaka
castle) in 1580" (Ref:
Bill Jordan 1999)
While this stone is not on display, there is a similar one and a
fine tea bowl in a Suiban created for this event by Dan Barton
The stones exhibited range through various styles and illustrate some
of the finest Suiseki in the UK at this time. These include Chinese
Scholars Stones , Abstract stones and Susieki in various styles. Many
of the stones are on Daizas, the hand made wood stands carved
specially for each stone, which have been created by Sean Smith the
worlds leading Daiza Carver outside Japan, and on Suibans , trays in
ceramic by some of the leading artists in the UK including Dan Barton.
Also shown in this exhibit are some rare Dhobans, hand made Suibans in
bronze. Craig's favourite Suiseki is one he collected in Liguria with
a beautiful Dazia created by Tony Sarraceno from California for this
special suiseki, a natural flat based stone of 8 inches long and
showing an entire range of mountains with a volcano in the middle.
This looks exactly like Ben Lomond, the mountain range that over looks
Loch Lomond in Scotland near Craig's home. i.
Some of the Susieki are displayed on Tables or Dai They are hardwood
tables created for Craig Coussins and suitable for the display of top
quality Bonsai as well as Stones.