With a keen eye for detail and a desire to share God’s Word, 25-year-old optometrist Ashleigh Wong loves to create beautiful word-art.
“I guess I would call myself a calligraphy artist but I’m self-taught, so I don’t feel fully qualified to take that title,” explains Ashleigh. “Calligraphy is a hobby for me, so I usually get to do it a few hours a week.”
Having attended Epping Adventist Church (Sydney) for most of her life, Ashleigh says it is there that she first fell in love with calligraphy as an artistic practice.
“Kerri Long, a master calligrapher and my church aunty, first inspired me with her italic and traditional styles. She taught me the basics of the parallel pen when I was about 15 and I was immediately hooked. A few years later, I taught myself modern and copperplate calligraphy using a pointed pen (which is now my favourite tool to use),” she says.
Moving to Melbourne when she was 18 to study, and then working in Canberra for three years, Ashleigh practised calligraphy to de-stress, and as a source of comfort and spiritual stability.
“I felt like I needed a creative outlet, but I also wanted to grow closer to Jesus in the process. What better way than to write and rewrite His Word in a way that I would remember it visually and mechanically?”
Before each calligraphy session, Ashleigh says she meditates on a particular verse, passage or word from the Bible. “In doing so, I have been able to flesh out so much more from His Word than ever before,” she explains. “I look at the structure and letterforms, which further helps me remember the passage.”
By continually improving her skills and refining her personal style, which she describes as “a modern take on copperplate with a simple flourish”, Ashleigh has received many opportunities to share her art.
“It’s been lovely to be able to add a personal touch to cards for friends and family, and it has been an honour to do signage and invitations for weddings and engagement parties. I was also asked to engrave for a few of Jo Malone London’s perfume launch events, so I taught myself this skill too! I got to personalise their glass bottles, which was a huge privilege.”
Now sharing her art through her Instagram page, there’s no telling where this hobby could take her.
“I am so humbled by how receptive people have been to my work,” she says. “Initially, I was hesitant to put something so personal out into a public space (Instagram), but the living Word of God speaks for itself, so I think God told me to be brave. I’m not sure how many people I reach, but I figure if even one person is able to connect more with God by seeing my work, it’s worth sharing.”
Grounded in her purpose to serve, Ashleigh’s life is a testament to her daily surrender to God.
“I’m happy going along with wherever God leads me,” Ashleigh says. “I strongly believe He placed me in my career of optometry to serve His purpose of service, but He has truly blessed me with a hobby that can also do this. I’m excited to see whatever God has in store.”
To view more of Ashleigh’s beautiful calligraphy, you can check out her Instagram page @ashtreecalligraphy