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Directors Blog for November: A Time of Remembrance

Posted 18th November 2013
Watts Contemporary Gallery

November is a time of remembrance. The only public service that is given in the Watts Chapel in Compton takes place on All Souls day; and even fireworks are accompanied by the idea of remembrance, remember the fifth of November! We have chosen this month to launch our new exhibition The Making of Mary Watts. It has provided a new and startling opportunity to remember Mary Watts as an artist in her own right. Thanks to the work of Mary McMahon the NADFAS supported Curatorial Fellow at Watts Gallery, we have discovered new achievements of this remarkable woman artist. We are also indebted to the owner of Aldourie, Mary Watts’s original home in Scotland, who has generously leant some wonderful portraits by Mary Watts. It was good news for the community of Compton, at that time, that Mary Watts believed so passionately in Art for All. She created a Cemetery Chapel which is still being used today, taught over 70 local people a new craft which led to the foundation of the Compton Potters’ Art Guild, established apprenticeships for young people and contributed to the founding of the Compton Village Hall, and Titanic Memorial in Godalming. It was moving to read the dedication on the memorial cloister in the Watts Cemetery which states: “This cloister and chapel were designed and built by her and given together with the land to the people of Compton for whose welfare she worked with untiring devotion, living in the light of the noble spirit of her husband and of his enduring works, giving always as he did. The utmost for the highest”.  Find out more about The Making of Mary Seton Watts exhibition.

Mary Watts would be pleased with an event just has just taken place at Watts Gallery, an international colloquium on Artist studio house museums. Representatives from Finland, Holland, Germany, France, Russia and Ireland have congregated to discuss the idea of establishing a network to share research, exhibitions and expertise. Generously people of Compton have provided accommodation for the guests and the event has been attended by over 50 people.

In keeping with Art for All, the Old Pottery Gallery is showing an exhibition by the Artist in Residence Clare Kuznick. Her embroidery work depicts the inspiration that she has drawn from her year at Watts Gallery as well as the project that she under took with Art Venture Trust, a disability group from Guildford.

We continue to be so grateful for the generosity and support of our Friends, Volunteers and donors. At a time when funds for the learning and exhibitions programme become even more important, every gift counts. During consultation workshops with a number of people regarding fundraising at Watts Gallery, there was real surprise that the Gallery costs £2,000 a day to run. This is not waste – the cost of the environmental controls, the lighting and heating, the care of the collection, the insurance, the estate management, the marketing, the staffing all amount to some considerable core costs. This is when we know that it is our Friends and core donors who keep us alive.