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It must be Spring!

Posted 16th May 2012
Watts Contemporary Gallery

It must be Spring – not only can visitors hear the chirping of the bull finches in the Gallery woodland, and see the cowslips in full flower in the beds lovingly tended by volunteers, Watts Gallery has also had a visit from a bride, who chose to be photographed at the Watts Chapel, have tea in the Tea Shop and visit the Gallery on her wedding day, dressed all in white. The Gallery has also received its first visit from a hen party! It is delightful that this hollow in the Surrey Hills, with a Gallery of national importance has such a special place in peoples’ hearts that they choose it as the place for celebrating one of the most important days in their lives.

The Patrons enjoyed a very special visit to Waddesdon and to a private collection in Buckinghamshire, which included some stunning paintings by Watts. It was moving to hear from one Patron that the Watts patrons scheme had actually made a difference to their lives – introducing them to new friends, and giving them access to experiences and collections this they would not have otherwise seen. Watts Gallery relies on its Patrons for unrestricted funds to support its work with young people, and its learning and outreach work with young offenders, reformed drug users, and those with mental illness. This forms so much part of the Watts ethos and must be continued alongside those activities within the Gallery.

Philanthropy was in the DNA of our founders, G.F. Watts and Mary Seton Watts, and we are lucky to have such inspiring benefactors who are encouraging Watts Gallery to promote philanthropy in the 21st Century. The Hazelhurst Trust, which is supporting the ‘Saving the Watts Studios’ campaign, is hosting a symposium on Philanthropy at 2 Temple Place on Wednesday 23 May. Watts Gallery, its history and its work today with excluded groups through the Big Issues project, is going to be given as a case study.

We continue to be deeply honoured to have the support of so many volunteers who have worked so hard to keep the campaign to save Watts Gallery on the rails and who now continue to support us in so many ways. We are hoping desperately that their efforts will be recognized in this year’s Queens Award for Volunteering. Never before have so many deserved an award for doing so much.

It is encouraging that there are those who are beginning to see the urgency and need to save Limnerslease for the nation – the home and studios of G.F. Watts and Mary Seton Watts. Although it may seem unbelievable to embark so soon upon another major campaign, we have not been given the choice. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to save the last part of the Watts story in Compton and to give the public an opportunity to learn more about Mary Seton Watts. We must seize it and we are very grateful to all those who are helping us in this new challenge. Thank you.