Tanya Ashken was born hearing impaired and educated at the progressive co-educational boarding school Bedales where the arts were valued and where she learnt skills including woodwork. Ashken gained a silversmithing hallmark at the age of 13. At Central School of Arts and Crafts she did a three-year course which included life drawing, design, and silversmithing techniques. Brancusi is a key influence and she had her first experience of his work in Paris in 1960. In 1963, she moved to New Zealand with her partner artist John Drawbridge.
Ashken’s oeuvre includes numerous silversmithing and jewellery commissions as well as sculptural works constructed in steel and cement, carved stone and wood, wire and plaster of Paris works cast in bronze.
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