The Dunsborough Art Society is losing a long-standing foundation member, an extra-ordinary woman, who's dedication to the art has been phenomenal. At age 92 her mind is still as bright and sparkling as if she were still young, but she has decided it is time to be with her family in Spearwood.
Laurel Ashley, born in 1930 in Kalgoorlie and brought up in Coolgardie, in the Goldfields lived through the Depression and WW2. Laurel left school at 13 and got married at 16 and with her husband Douglas Ashley, they had six children. Not an easy life one would say, but Laurel would say 'that's the way it was and you just got on with it.'
Laurel married 1946 and they lived just two miles out of town, next to the State Battery which crushed the dirt for prospectors to see if there was gold. These were hard times, people lived in tents, winter was freezing and summer incredibly hot.
"This is what makes good people, they had to put up with a lot and therefore appreciate things much more," Ms Ashley said.
From Coolgardie they moved to Mt. Magnet and from there to Kambalda.
They retired in 1977 to Abbey and they thought they had died and gone to heaven. Life after the Goldfields was such an incredible luxury and joy. However, after a long illness her husband passed away 31 years ago.
Ms Ashley started an art class at Ray Village which eventually became a craft group. Ms Ashley has been a long-time, much valued life member and over the years she has been secretary, treasurer and president. She knew where everything was, down to the last paperclip. And if you couldn't find her, you just had to go to the kitchen and then see her head down, bottom up searching for that elusive item.
Ms Ashley has steered this society through thick and thin with incredible diplomacy and determination over a remarkably long time, and her knack of dealing with artistic temperament was legendary.
Her advice to the members is 'Don't make selling a priority. Don't lose track of why the Art Society was started. Remember our motto:
"To encourage and stimulate interest in the fine arts and to help with occupational therapy."'
Ms Ashley wants to encourage members to come to both Wednesdays and Thursdays alternatively as this way you get to know all the members. These are just a few snippets of her life and of course there is so much we don't know about her, but perhaps she will write her life story one day. She is a beautiful, talented, generous and loveable lady.
Dear Laurel, the Dunsborough Art Society will miss you immensely. We wish you health, happiness and love in your new home.