Oct 1, 2010

The Positive Planks Project


Go Confidently In The Direction Of Your Dreams...

Let me introduce you to my friend Ange...an amazing and inspiring artist living in the south of France. She is a talented calligrapher with a huge and generous heart...a woman with incredible energy, motivation and vision.

Ange believes that words have the power to heal and motivate and uses her impressive talent as an artist and calligrapher to create her beautiful, inspiring works of art.

She is currently working on her Positive Planks project and I asked her to tell us about it...

Ange, please tell us just what is the Positive Planks project?

The Positive Planks project is all about creating an 'all positive,' ethical art project that inspires all who come in contact with it at any stage of its process. Over the last year or so I have taken to applying modern calligraphy styles to famous inspirational quotes, creating a range of artworks on reclaimed planks whose end purpose are to uplift and motivate. During the creative process it dawned on me the recurring self motivating effect that producing this style of artwork had on me as well. Every time I draw on and artistically reinterpret the words of the world's great motivators, I feel deeply inspired to work towards my own dreams. It just seems natural to want to share this generally with others. 

I know most calligraphers work with paper, but for the longest time I've had a love affair with old wood. Like the quotes I choose to reproduce visually, wood is durable, solid, true and dependable. It also ages beautifully. With the environment in the state it's in, recycling is an intrinsic part of my life here in the country so it was also a logical choice of canvas for me.

Up to now I have designed and produced each plank (they are currently made out of reclaimed French wooden wine crates) by hand myself. The time has now come to up the production a bit as I want to reach a few more people than my own two hands are capable of. That has meant finding a way of doing so that would uphold the integrity of the idea as well as maintaining the hand-made, original nature of each piece. Not so long ago, the germ of an idea sprouted that maybe I could start a fair trade project by having newly literate Tibetan refugee women in the North of India help me create a series of standardized artworks, so I'm off to Dharamsala on October 22nd to find out how we might make it happen... 

To share a wee secret with you Laura, I would also actually love to work producing positive planks directly with women in prisons, or refugee women through a series of workshops as I think the general positive effect of art, compounded by using inspirational expressions could have resounding effects, but the mammoth effort involved in fighting the French Administration in order to do so means that it's still some way off yet. I haven't said my last word on the matter though and it's definitely on the to-do list!

How did you come by this idea?

Hmm, this is going to be a tricky one to explain and needs a bit of background. I guess you could say it's actually a culmination of my drive to motivate people the way I was motivated by my father when I was a tween in a new country, my passion for working with women's and girls' groups internationally, my love of beautiful calligraphy, and my unwavering belief in both the power of the written word and the strength of the human spirit. Or could it be that I've just turned forty and I'm finally pulling all the favorite parts of my professional and personal life together into one coherent whole ? ;-)
It also grew out of a bit of a backlash against the very beautiful country I live in. France, for all its tradition and splendor, resembles a well-meaning but inherently fearful elder who avoids and discourages change at all cost. For people (like me) who want to try a new idea, branch out, grow, the effect of the stern French, 'You're really not going to do that are you?' can be devastating. A few years ago I went through what could best be described as a  'tough patch' in my life, full of self doubt and isolation, until a little voice finally popped up inside me that said, "I dare you to be bigger than you are." Those words, up till then forgotten, came from a book I remember reading yeeeeeeeears earlier after we had moved from New Zealand to Australia. The mere memory of them filled me with new resolve and I immediately set about using my calligraphy skills to design pieces of art that could serve as a similar daily dose of motivation to others who might also find themselves in need of a gentle nudge.

There was still something missing for me though. A major part of my professional past was working in women's and girls' basic education and literacy for UNESCO, which I put aside to have my own three children. This is work I am genuinely passionate about and miss terribly, but up until recently, I wasn't sure how I could combine my art and love of working with women's groups into one. 

What do you hope to accomplish?

More than anything I want to inspire people. The essential goal of my work is to urge all of us never to set limits on our aspirations and to encourage youngsters especially to believe that very little is beyond their ability to achieve. I have never formally been a 'business woman,' so over and above the intrinsically inspiring nature of the artwork content, I hope that if I can build this into a successful, ethical business then I might just be able to encourage others (read particularly: women and girls)  to at least entertain the idea that achieving their own goals is definitely possible.

From a young age I've continually found written word to be a hugely powerful tool that motivates the human spirit and draws out our inner strength. Yes, I do know I sound evangelical about this, I even border on gushing, childish enthusiasm, but I just know it works.

We are all capable of such amazing things. I really just want to help people believe they can achieve them. 

How can we help?

Apart from helping me to come up with a better name for the project? Lol! Spread the word!! Actually, I'm a little shy about this question. Encouraging others to reach their goals (in my own calligraphic way) has been such a personal crusade in my mind for so long that I'm joyously taken aback with the idea that it could take on greater proportions. I'd really like this project to become global. The more energy that builds up behind it, the more positive effect we can all have on the world together.  For the moment, it's in its beginning stages and still a bit fragile. The tiniest little piece of advice, encouraging idea or contact any of your readers out there could offer would go a long way in building its strength, and contribute to the overall momentum of it. 

As Ghandi said, 'Let's be the change we want to see in the world.'

Thanks again Laura for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed by you for Kim's 'The Inspiration Studio".... It's been a fabulous experience that I'm most grateful for!

Signed by Ange: http://wordsonwood.blogspot.com/

Thank you Ange for taking the time to share the Positive Planks project  with us. You are truly an inspiration! 

To find out more about Ange and this incredible project you can visit her website: http://www.signedbyange.com/index.html


Leah C said...

I have always believed in the power of words:) I love these "positve planks"...such a wonderful idea! Wishing Ange loads of success:)

samos said...

what a great interview! i'm so happy to have learned about Ange's plank project and can't wait to share her story. =)

Gretchen said...

Loved this interview with Ange and learning about her plank project.
Words have such an incredible impact on peoples lives daily. Either to tear them down or build them up. So great to see and hear what she has been led to do and how gifted she truly is.
The first two photos are my favorites, as they show the beauty of the words as well as the raw beauty in the reclaimed wood/planks.

Ana Maria said...

Your have your project's name right there! I just cut and pasted it from your own words:

Spread the word!!

Visualize it in your big, bold calligraphy - and there you have it!

Congratulations and God bless you for trying to make the world a better place for those less fortunate. ......... Ana María

Ange said...

Thanks for your lovely support and the fabulous title!! You have a true gift Ana Maria :)
I'll take it onboard if you don't mind!!!

~Kristina said...

This project is completely inspirational. What a beautiful way to make the world just that little bit sweeter.

Rustique Gal said...

This was a great interview. I've run into Ange's planks on blogland and loved them. Thank you for sharing! She is totally inspiring-imagine combining all aspects of her life into her art like that!

ELK said...

this speaks to my heart ..what a wonder filled project..GO ANGE!!

Jamie said...

How incredibly inspiring! I can't wait to hear about Ange's work in India.

Kim Klassen said...

a completely fabulous and inspired interview Ange... and Laura..

I'm also a sign paper.. i adore words.. typography.... and old wood... be still my heart!!

i love the calligraphy on wood... FANTASTIC!!

Prairie Girl Studio said...

wow ... very powerful work going on here ...

thank you for what you are doing ange ~ xo

thanks so much laura ~ fabulous interview with a most intriguing and inspiring artist ...


kelly@thebluemuse said...

what a wonderful interview, and a very moving project. I feel the same way about words, there are phrases that I hold onto, phrases that have changed my life. this is such a beautiful way to put them out into the world.

dbalyoz said...

oh my word...what amazing work you do, Ange! I love all of your creations and am inspired by your dreams to impact women around the world. Will you please come back and tell us how things go for you in India???
Safe and successful travels. :)

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Beautiful Ange & Laura
You are both fabulous inspiration to us all ... both bringing beauty in your own way.... and Ange with your heart as big as the ocean.... I like the title 'spread the word' too.. so apt!!! xxx Julie

Lisa Holtzman said...

Great interview. You go Ange, you are such an inspiration!!!

IM GIRL said...

Very inspiring and really enjoyed learning more about you Ange. I look forward to hearing about your trip. You represent us all as women and I think I say we send our hearts with you! "Never give up"!


Tammie Lee said...

this sounds wonderful ange! wishing you clarity of vision, a wonderful business name that will draw the connections that will make this a living and vital experience, project and more.
many hugs,