A project to celebrate the centenary of local designer Laura Ashley

Walkie Talkie is a project which celebrates the centenary of Laura Ashley, an important figure in the history of the local area as well as in textile design and production.

Oriel Davies are commissioning 5 artists to lead 5 walks each based in one of the following towns, of which had its own Laura Ashley shop: Carno (or Caersws) where the Laura Ashley factory was located, Welshpool, Newtown, Llanidloes and Machynlleth.

With many people in the area having worked for Laura Ashley, there is a rich tapestry of stories, memories and connections amongst our communities. Best known for her designs for fashion and homeware, Laura Ashley developed her business with the idea of family at its heart. Friday’s for example were a half-work day and began with a shared breakfast in the canteen. Another, was the ‘walkie talkie’ - a walk outside in nature with the family or some of the staff to talk through ideas and problems and support wellbeing.

This series of artist-led walks should cultivate the spirit of the walkie talkies, with walking as a generative activity which aids creativity and reflection. With artists working in a range of artistic disciplines, including sculpture, photography, movement, craft and creative writing, there will be a chance for participants to create a special takeaway in a workshop during or after the walk.

The project draws upon themes of movement, memory and making, and we invite anyone with an interest in or connection to Laura Ashley, creativity or walking to join. A warm space will be provided for tea and coffee before and after, and we'll aim to work with the natural elements as much as possible! The walks will be on the easier side, though please inquire about specific routes and accessibility.

Dates and artists are to be announced, but for more information sign up to the Oriel Davies Gallery newsletter or contact project producer Suzie Jones on orieldaviessuzie.jones@gmail.com

This project has been funded by The Ashley Family Foundation.

Photo: still from the ‘Rise and Rise of Laura Ashley – 1976’, ATV and Sir Bernard Ashley Film Archives

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