Aspiring storyboardsNovember 7th, 2012
On Monday, 5 November, sculptor Tanya Ashken presented the Alexander Turnbull Library with a unique album of watercolours by her late husband John Drawbridge.
The album of 45 beautiful watercolour and pastel drawings, contains John Drawbridge’s storyboard for a planned 1949 film ‘The Ascent of Aspiring’. Assembled before filming, the storyboard was designed to secure financing for the film. It shows three young climbers progressing up the perilous mountain, and the surrounding landscapes, including views below and above the bush-line, the glaciers and summit of the mountain.
Lake Wanaka. Mt Aspiring. Aspinall's. Packing. Horses. Hell's Gates.  Ref: E-942-f-005
The film was never completed because of bad weather over the summer of 1949, and the death of one of the climbers the following year.
The colour film, intended as a ‘cinematic poem’ had a remarkable group working on it, with noted cinematographer Brian Brake as the film-maker, poet James K Baxter as scriptwriter, Douglas Lilburn as composer and 18-year-old John Drawbridge as artist.
In 2001, Yvonne Mackay, of the Gibson Group made a new documentary film centred round John Drawbridge, the only one of the four still alive. Some of the original film had survived and parts were incorporated into the new film. Drawbridge was taken back to Aspiring and interviewed there. He died a few years later in 2005.
Drawbridge, John Boys, 1930-2005, [Glacier near Mt Aspiring]. 1949 Ref: E-942-f-004
Ashken's donation is timed to coincide with the establishment of Massey University’s College of Creative Arts’ John Drawbridge Ambassadorial Scholarship. The Scholarship will assist Massey students registered in international exchange programmes. A function to establish the fellowship is being held at Massey University on Monday 12 November at 6.30 p.m., with a charity auction including works by John Drawbridge and photographs by Brian Brake, a piano recital of music by Douglas Lilburn, and a reading of James K Baxter’s poetry. As the function’s centrepiece, the 2001 film will screen.
Tanya Ashken with a page from the album, along with Curator Marian Minson and Chief Librarian Chris Szekely. Photo: Mark Beatty