Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Wangari Maathai- The Heart of The Tree

"The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple act of planting a tree, we give hope to ourselves and to future generations." These words were spoken by Dr Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004).
She started The Green Belt Movement in 1977 & what began as a grassroots tree planting program to address the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion and lack of water is now a vehicle for empowering women. The act of planting a tree is helping women throughout Africa become stewards of the natural environment.
By protecting the environment, these women are also becoming powerful champions for sustainable management of scarce resources such as water, equitable economic development, good political governance, and ultimately….. peace.

It is well worth following the links to read more about this remarkable lady, who was divorced by her husband for being too strong-minded for a woman and that he was unable to control her. The judge in the divorce case agreed with the husband, and Wangari was put in jail for speaking out against the judge, who then decreed that she must drop her husband's surname. In defiance, Wangari chose to add an extra "a" instead!

This scroll was commissioned by local area representatives of the National Council of Women of Great Britain to present to Wangari in recognition of her achievements. It is an adaptation of "The Heart of The Tree" by Henry Culyer Bunner. There was no way I was going to do the "nice" little certificate/scroll I was originally asked for. The trouble is, most people have no idea what can be done with calligraphy, so I sent them away to think about it but privately decided I would create something more worthwhile my way, no matter what they thought about my suggested budget!

My idea was to provide a semi-formal certificate style piece of work, incorporating the colours of Kenya & Africa somehow. I decided on abstract watercolour squares of colour, suggestive of the landscape for the colour, with a smattering of copper (powder & leaf)... copper lettering top & bottom & the main body of calligraphy in brown.
Did you notice the little copper heart in the 'A' ? (click to enlarge if not & to see the words). The scroll is written on BFK Rives, which I find wonderful to write on, aswell as being suitable for the watercolour areas. This was loosely mounted on Khadi bagasse cotton rag paper, hung from canes... the whole thing rolled up to be secured with brown ribbon to be presented as a scroll, also suitable to be hung 'as is' or framed if desired....(all part of my remit!) It was approx 30" x 20"

In the end this ended up being a 'rush-job' the week before Christmas (I was soooo busy) by the time the lady I spoke to conferred with others & confirmed it was ok to go with my ideas... then changed the format... then added a couple of requirements... Then they could only collect the evening before they travelled to London..... then I got the phone call to say I'd miss-spelt "Wangari"....I'd written Wengari.... no great problem... change a to e... without it being obvious... I said... ???!!! Try doing it 10 minutes before they leave with anxious client pacing with c**p light at her house... i think it was ok, if you didn't know you might not notice, I wasn't totally happy but i didn't have time to do any more.

I've always loved this particular piece of work, but always wondered how much that mistake showed in daylight, did she like it? did she actually take it home with her? etc Having previously been reasonably satisfied I just looked up the poem as i typed this... I've just found that it was written by Henry Cuyler Bunner, not Culyer as I thought for the last four years. Ooops, now i wonder if they even presented it?!


Mel said...

I absolutely LOVE this piece....such a simple message but so FULL...

and what an amazing woman...

Thanks so much for sharing this..

~brightest blessings~

Haley @ Iridescent Dark said...

I'm sure they'd have presented it, it's a beautiful piece!

By the way, I've tagged you ;D

Victoria Pittman said...

Lovely work!


Suzi_Spirit Whispers said...

Thanks for the votes of confidence folks. It got to the point where i literally had time to complete this in one hit due to the rest of my work-load & I could have done without stupid errors.

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