The Oriel Gallery
Oriel Davies Gallery is a key public art gallery of Wales, based in Newtown, rural Powys presenting world-class, thought-provoking and challenging art by national and international artists in an environment that is welcoming, engaging, informative and free. The Gallery and exhibition spaces are family-friendly, physically accessible and ideal for experiencing contemporary art.
The Gallery originates and presents around ten exhibitions a year, across three gallery spaces. These range from major exhibitions selected from national collections, through to new work by established artists, and to more experimental work by emerging artists in Oriel Davies’ Test Bed space. As well as commissioning new work, Oriel Davies also produces artist films and a range of high-quality publications.
Gallery facilities include a light, bright modern café, which serves delicious homemade specialities both inside and out on the café terrace. There is also a shop with a wide range of unique designer jewellery, ceramics and textiles by locally and nationally acclaimed makers, as well as art books and magazines, design-led giftware and stationery and children’s toys, books and games.
Alongside the exhibition programme, which often tours to other venues nationally, Oriel Davies also runs a broad mix of stimulating workshops, courses, talks and events. The Gallery is also widely known for its innovative offsite projects and outreach programmes for schools, colleges and the wider community.
Did you know?
The Gallery was founded in 1982 in Welshpool designated one of the seven Development Galleries, of Wales.
All kinds of world class art and sculpture can be found within the gallery, with approximately 10 exhibitors per year.
From 2002 – 2004 there was significant funding invested in to the gallery from the lottery and other sources, to support growth and new features, such as the café and larger exhibition spaces.
Oriel Davies Gallery was awarded an Arts Council of Wales Beacon Company Award 2008-10 for excellence and innovation
The Full Story…
The Gallery was originally founded as Oriel 31 in Welshpool, named after its first premises at 31 High Street.
The Gallery was designated one of the seven Development Galleries of Wales and expanded its operations to the Davies Memorial Gallery which had been purpose-built in 1967 in Newtown a gallery / community centre with a legacy left by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, Wales’ greatest art collectors and benefactors. The premises are owned by the MCRA (Montgomeryshire Community Regeneration Association), a separate trust with connections to the Davies family.
From the late 1990s Oriel 31 and the MCRA began to work in partnership to develop a capital project to refurbish the building as an art gallery, resulting in an ambitious two-phase Capital Development Programme.
The Gallery closed throughout 2002 for Phase One of the capital programme. This programme upgraded the main exhibition space (to 120 sq m), created a shop, a foyer and a glass and steel extension for a Café.
The Gallery reopened in January 2003 and was renamed Oriel Davies Gallery in recognition of Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, Wales’ greatest art collectors and benefactors.
Phase Two of the capital programme took place during 2004, giving Oriel Davies an enlarged second exhibition space (to 95 sq m), an education room and a resource area. The foyer space was doubled to provide a new gallery shop and an external café patio was created.
The total cost of the capital development was £1.7 million. The funding partners were the Arts Council of Wales Lottery, The Gwendoline & Margaret Davies Charity, Powys County Council and The Wales Tourist Board. Oriel Davies’s capital programme created one of the most distinctive medium-scale art galleries in Wales. The architectural design by B3Burgess heightened the Gallery’s visibility through polished stainless steel fascias and retained the simple, modernist lines and beautiful natural light of the original building. It provided uncluttered, flexible exhibition spaces ideal for the display of contemporary art. Heightened security and environmental conditions allowed the Gallery to take loans from major national art collections. The new Gallery was welcoming to visitors, with the double entrance and modest scale of the foyer and shop creating an open and informal hub for easy circulation and excellent access.
Oriel Davies was accepted onto the Arts Council of Wales Sustainability Scheme, enabling the Gallery to work with arts consultants and other professionals to guide and assess the needs of the organisation after refurbishment.
Oriel Davies Gallery was awarded an Arts Council of Wales Beacon Company Award 2008-10 for excellence and innovation.