Margaret Ashman’s delicately coloured original prints are based on gesture, dance and sign. The stillness and silence of the works is not accidental, it is often because her models are deaf. Each step or movement of arm, hand and body flows from a performer who speaks the visual language of sign. Whether signing or dancing without words, each gesture is intentional and resonant with hidden meaning. Ashman’s latest series is derived from video footage of the US dancer Tashara Gavin-Moorehead performing a worship dance to the Witney Houston song I Love the Lord. The Japanese titles are Ogamu meaning worship, and Joi meaning joy.
Developed digitally at first, the images are then made into metal plates in the workshop through a photo-etching process. The artist’s preferred metals are steel and copper. She etches steel plates with nitric acid, sometimes reworking the plates with scrapers and abrasives to bring more light in the final image. The proofing stage on the press is a vital part of the creative process before the final print is realised. Layers of ink are sometimes added to create soft layers and unique marks by mixing and reworking. Each print is taken individually by freshly inking up the plate for each impression.