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Posted 22.02.17

MA Showcase: Illustrator and designer Ashley Turner

By Sarah Packer

With a focus on developing her own product range, illustrator Ashley Turner moved from Nashville, USA to study on our Masters degree in Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice.

“I was impressed by the school's faculty and facilities, so I sent in my application immediately. By the end of the following month, I'd moved to Plymouth and begun the programme,” said Ashley.

Inspired by flora and fauna, Ashley’s illustrations of animals, plants, and heritage scenes are precisely rendered through fine pen and delicate watercolours.

© Ashley Turner

Following the tradition set by creative practitioners such as William Morris, Ashley depicts nature in loving detail with muted palettes and circular shapes that encapsulate her illustrated figures.

“The interdisciplinary approach allows artists from different backgrounds to provide one another with feedback.”

She pairs her drawn images with hand lettering, conjuring to mind field guides or botanical illustrations of bygone eras.

Ashley's delicate watercolour illustrations highlighted on a silk scarf designed to commemorate Mayflower 400.

Ashley began exploring heritage illustration for the Mayflower 400, a transatlantic programme of events occurring in 2020 to acknowledge the passing of four hundred years since the Mayflower sailed from Britain for America.

“The Mayflower 400 organisation commissioned me to design a necktie and silk scarf as gifts for the US Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun.

“I was also asked to design the invitation for the reception at Winfield House, the official London residence of the Ambassador, at which I personally presented the gifts.

“The scarf design was inspired by actual artefacts, such as the Loara Standish sampler and Allerton Cushman cup, that survived the Mayflower's historic crossing, as well as by historical landmarks on both shores.”

On our Masters programme, Ashley applied her illustrations to silk scarves, gift wrap, stationery and home furnishings – a collection of market-ready pieces, which will be used to launch her brand Onnen Design.

Kim Charnley, Postgraduate Programme Leader presenting Ashley with the Postgraduate Student of the Year Award at our annual MA Showcase.

At our Masters Showcase 2016, she was awarded Postgraduate Student of the Year for her work with Mayflower 400, with Ashley saying: “The primary transformation I underwent in this degree was from fine artist to designer, from commission-oriented to commercial-oriented, from client-led to self-led.”

Her most recent collaborators include the New England Historic Genealogical Society and

Follow Ashley at: