Posted 3rd June 2010
Watts Contemporary Gallery
Milestones in a project like the Hope project are genuinely welcome. After so much disappointment through the delay caused by the contractor going in to administration, to have reached a real milestone with our current contractors, Blenheim House Construction, is a turning point. Who better to celebrate this moment than the new Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP. Jeremy Hunt has been immensely supportive of Watts Gallery and has personal associations with the Gallery and Compton.
I have never seen such energy as the Secretary of State hammered in the frond of yew taken from the yews planted by Mary Watts along the path to the Watts Chapel in Compton Cemetery to the topmost part of the lantern, which has been recreated to look like the original lantern on the main Gallery roof when it was built by Mary Watts in 1906. This Gallery will be named the Isabel Goldsmith Patino Gallery in honour of our lead patron Isabel Goldsmith. The Gallery will house the masterpieces of the Watts Collection and I for one feel more than excited to see works such as Sower of the Systems, Paolo and Francesca, After the Deluge and the wonderful sculpture of Clytie.
As well as this important visit, we were lucky enough to be hosted for an evening to raise funds for our Hope Emergency Appeal by Chris and Teresa Satterthwaite at their beautiful home Tuesley Manor. Over 120 people attended an evening where we sought to engage the support of the community of Surrey with the renaissance of Compton as a cradle for the Arts & Crafts movement in the South East. Many who attended the evening were once again surprised by the importance of Watts Gallery on the national, if not international scene, and I am most grateful to so many who pledged there and then to support the restoration of one of Europe's most beautiful small galleries - indeed a national gallery in the heart of a village. We could not have come this far without everyone's generosity and we are so nearly there in completing the funds necessary to re-open Watts Gallery next Spring.