Margaret Ashman makes photo etchings from photographs of dancers or sign language performance. She usually works from her own photographs but sometimes collaborates with other artists.
The Altered Histories series features a model, Susanna Harrington, dancing a westernised form of Bharata Natyam, a centuries old traditional dance style from Southern India. Ashman was interested in this form of dance because of the ‘mudras’ or hand gestures that the dance incorporates. Each gesture has a particular meaning. Bharata Natyam is known for its grace, purity, tenderness, expression and sculpturesque poses.
The landscapes do not exist in reality but have been made up from Ashman’s own photographs of places she has visited. She has painstakingly combined floors, walls, pillars and facades from different cities and countries. She has used exterior shots to create interiors and vice versa.
Venice, Pompeii, Paphos, Loire Chateaux and the British Museum have contributed to this series. Altered Histories Highgate resulted from a trip to the famous cemetery. Altered Histories The Ancients contains the Elgin Marbles, housed in the British Museum; Altered Histories Turner’s Pompeii was inspired by an exhibition of Turner’s paintings at the Tate. Altered Histories Campania has the strong light found in that region of Italy, Some of the walls were photographed in Pompeii. Lost City I and Lost City II arose from walking round the many Roman ruins of Paphos.