Margaret Ashman read Physics at Oxford and worked for several years in the field of Acousto Optics. She retrained as an artist printmaker between 1998 and 2005 at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Brighton. An experienced printmaker specialising in photo etching. Her work with dancers has led to ethereal images capturing fleeting moments and spontaneous bodily gesture. Her studies of deaf people signing have led to work in which she addresses issues of faith, spirituality and emotion.
Ashman has worked with the following deaf actors, choreographers and sign dancers:the Japanese choreographer and dancer Chisato Minamimura, David Bower from Wales and the Cuban dancer Isolte Avila. David and Isolte are part of SignDance Collective International. Ashman worked with deaf actors Nadia Nadarajah and Zoe McWhinney on a project for an exhibition celebrating Shakespeare’s four hundred year anniversary in 2016.
Ashman’s practice straddles many discourses: The use of a language for the deaf, typically BSL, in much of her work locates her practice within disability arts. In 2015 Yinka Shonibare selected her work for Shape Open – an open exhibition for disability arts practitioners. In the same year, she was commissioned by the Arts Council to make work for an exhibition, Shifting Subjects, bringing together self portraits by five contemporary women artists including Sarah Lucas. Ashman’s work made explicit the significance of language and communication as a means to define the self.
New work continues her exploration of the human condition – solitude, inner searching and longing. Two series of prints were developed from video footage of dancers (with their permission). The Ogamu series uses a low-resolution filter to create a painterly style, blending several colours of ink on the etching plate. The Mori series sets the dancer within an imagined forest allowing Ashman to explore the interplay of light and space.