Directors Blog: Watts Cemetery listed as Grade II*, Big Issues exhibition and Watts Gallery Gardeners
The good news this month is that the Watts Cemetery has been listed as Grade II* in recognition of its heritage importance. The Chapel continues to be of great interest to visitors as well as being such an important place of reflection and mourning for relatives of those buried there.
The course on Victorian architecture has started and the group has visited the buildings of Gilbert Scott at Charterhouse. This week Jeremy Musson, who has just written an excellent piece in Country Life about Compton, lectured to the group.
I started to realise that Watts Gallery, the Chapel, the Watts house and studio and the Old Pottery do really create an artists’ village, when I spoke to our local postman. Meeting the postman on Down Lane, we were discussing the latest exhibition on John Ruskin photographs and drawings. Simon, who has been delivering in Compton for ten years commented “I am amazed how the Gallery has changed and I love it. I particularly admire the work of John Ruskin – he is such a hidden treasure”.
The Big Issues Exhibition continues to inspire visitors and there are now 16 pieces which have been sold. The High Sheriff of Surrey chose to use one of the painting produced by a participant from HMP Feltham as part of the concluding summary of her year in the role. The picture depicts a person exiting from Prison, with two plastic bags and facing a crossroads – success or failure. This is the moment that so many young people face, particularly those who come from difficult backgrounds. The Art for All programme at Watts Gallery seeks to offer them an opportunity to reappraise their options, to discover a new way and to discover some real self worth.
As Spring regenerates us all, I would like to thank the incredible team of gardeners who tend the plots around Watts Gallery. Each plot has been ‘adopted’ and we would not be able to offer this enjoyable aspect of peoples’ visits without the loving care tendered by the volunteers. Also I would like to thank our new Friends’ ambassadors who have taken on the task of recruiting more Friends to support Watts Gallery, its learning programme, its maintenance and the exhibitions.