Directors Blog: Saving the Studio's and the hype around Holl
Not only was Frank Holl, the artist we are celebrating in the first ever exhibition of his work since 1889, a close friend of Watts, he was also a Surrey resident. Frank Holl lived in Gomshall and after his untimely and tragic death, his family moved to Milford, Surrey. Comments from the public on this exhibition include: “Watts Gallery is as splendid as always. We hope that someone is present day poverty like Holl did”; “Loved the Holl exhibition”; “Holl exhibition – very interesting”. It has also received wonderful reviews from both the Guardian and The Telegraph, The Telegraph’s Richard Dorment describing it as, ‘a knockout of a show’ and giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
This week we reached Stage C of the plans for the Saving the Watts Studios project. The scheme for the building, the contents for the Galleries and the studios, the concept for the woodland and public access to the Watts Studios is really beginning to come together. Now we want to invite the views of those who matter – the local community, heritage agencies, the staff, Trustees, donors, local authorities, volunteers and Friends. Their views will help ensure that our planning embraces the concerns of users and those nearby.
I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all our donors, Friends and supporters. We had a remarkable evening, in Watts Gallery and hosted by the High Sheriff of Surrey, to raise funds for four local charities, including Watts Gallery. Each charity was allowed to pitch, Dragon’s Den style, to the assembled guests. The result of this was each charity raising over £5,000 from the evening. Watts Gallery was immensely grateful to secure support for the Big Issues project, which enables us to take artist-led workshops to HMP Bronzefield, to a group of reformed drug users and homeless, to Street Level Arts, Opportunities, and also a group of young mothers near Farnham.
We could not deliver the opportunity of transforming lives through art without gifts. Just today, I was given a cheque for £100 from a couple who have lived on the Watts Gallery Estate for over 47 years. They have seen Watts Gallery change over the decades and yet still believe in the importance of the work and the mission of providing Art for All. We remain humbled and deeply grateful.