MARGARET ASHMAN

 

 

Ashman’s printmaking practice straddles many discourses and the use of a language for the deaf in much of her work locates it within disability arts. She is more used to making work using solitary dancers, either from her own photographs or video footage or from found footage. She incorporated text as sign language in her series A Time for Everything, Border Crossings, Shakespeare and In the Beginning. She took part in an Arts Council funded project, Shifting Subjects in 2015 in which she worked with the choreographer Chisato Minamimura to create a dance piece based on an autobiographical poem. The exhibition at the Abbey walk Gallery included a film and self-portrait photo etchings. 

 

www.margaretashman.com

In more recent work, Ashman made of series of prints incorporating trees with dancing figures – her Guardian Series, when she was invited to make work to celebrate the Chelsea Physic Garden’s 400 year anniversary. Another series, Fragile Earth, highlighted the loss of wild flower species, while her series, Mori, explored the interplay of dance and imagined woodland. 
 

Other print series have explored movement, gesture and emotion. Dance based on a song (I love the Lord) formed the basis of a solo show of prints ‘Higher Ground’ at the Muse Gallery, London in 2019. 
 
In 2017 she was honoured to be included in an international exhibition of lens based printmaking ‘Light/Matter: Art at the Intersection of Photography and Printmaking at the Grunwald Gallery, Indiana University, USA also shown at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in 2018. 

The prints submitted are part of a series created together with a film over a period of 12 months. Ashman asked a group of Deaf dancers to choreograph and perform an interpretative sign dance in the space of the Swiss Church in London in 2021. The dance was an interpretation of a poem written by the artist on the theme of Communion. Ashman photographed the dance, and Emil Kunda filmed and edited a 6 minute film of the performance. Ashman used her photographs as a starting point for a suite of 12 large photo etchings shown together with the film in a solo exhibition, Breaking Bread, in the Swiss Church in June 2022. 
 
The prints explore themes of inclusivity, group and spiritual connection through gesture and movement within the space of the church. Each print relates to a particular verse of the dance and poem. Each work is printed from two steel etching plates, joined with Japanese paper to create a wide landscape shape. Ashman makes her plates by rolling photo imageable resist onto steel or copper, aquatinting the developed plate and etching in nitric acid. She prints on her own Rochat etching press.