Posted 20th April 2012
Watts Contemporary Gallery
There have been several events recently which demonstrate the breadth and depth of the Watts activities. Together with the Arts & Crafts Movement in Surrey, at an event held in the Watts Studios, we launched the republication of The Word in the Pattern written by Mary Watts to describe the message and motifs of the Chapel, together with some essays drawn from the Symposium on the Watts Chapel. Also at this celebration of Mary Watts, we launched the Mary Watts Guild, a group of generous donors who wish to support the promotion and presentation of Mary Watts’s contribution, legacy, collection and community involvement and, through their subscription to the Guild, will support the acquisition of the Watts studios where we propose to have a Mary Watts exhibition gallery and Mary Watts community and craft studios.
The Hall of Fame portrait exhibition which continues until 3 June has attracted widespread interest. Richard and Leonée Ormond, the curators of the exhibition, who have authored a fascinating catalogue on the portraits, gave a memorable talk at Watts Gallery. Richard Ormond showed Watts’s work in contrast with that of Whistler, Rembrandt, Titian, Winterhalter and many others – drawing out some fascinating insights. Leonée Ormond spoke movingly and with great knowledge about Watts’s interest in the literary subjects. His request to Charles Swinburne to let his bright red hair grow resulted in Swinburne writing to a friend “Il faut souffrir pour etre peint”. Finally Leonée Ormond reminded us of the poem which accompanies Watts’s magnificent monumental sculpture of Tennyson, which interestingly took its inspiration from Watts visit to Waggoner Wells on Hindhead in Surrey.
“Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.”
Finally, another surprise has been to receive a poem written by a Portuguese medical officer in Flanders in the first world War , inspired by Watts’s painting Love and Life, which he had just seen in the Musée de Luxembourg in Paris. On 1 May, Patrons have been invited on a visit to a private collection in an Arts & Crafts house where the owner now has the Love and Life which Watts gave to the American people. The links continue.
We are so grateful to so many people who have generously found time to go online to give their support for Watts Gallery on the Art Fund Prize website. We will hear of the judges’ decision in May. It is a great honour that Watts Gallery has been included on the long list and one judge who visited recently said that this was largely due to the mammoth ground swell of support that Watts Gallery had generated from so many people. Thank you to you all.