Directors Blog: Winter illuminations, the Watts triathlon and A Russian Fairytale
The golden colours of autumn are spectacular in the Surrey Hills and this year even more so. It is not surprising that Watts’s canvases created at Limnerslease, were so rich in golden colour. With the autumn, brings the pitch darkness which is Compton in Winter. The lanterns look cozy, but this winter we have a special surprise – winter woodland illuminations designed by the artist Mary Branson. Supported very generously by our Trustee, Emma Verey, this artwork will kick off the festive spirit as well as provide much needed light for all the host of evening events we are offering at the Gallery over the next three months – Watts at Night with Russian food and music, an evening with Andrew Graham-Dixon, a screening of Effie Gray and Russian Ark, and of course the Watts Drawing course and the Terracotta Pottery Course, in true Mary Watts fashion. The Watts Gallery Shop is looking spectacular with wonderful coloured coats, scarves and if you venture upstairs to the Pottery Contemporary Gallery you can enjoy the most wonderful array of ceramic lustreware created by Jonathan Chiswell Jones.
On Monday 17 November we celebrated the opening of A Russian Fairytale: The Art and Craft of Elena Polenova. It has created within the Showcase and Exhibitions Gallery a sense of a Russian country house interior, right in the heart of Surrey. The colours of the paintings and the furniture are rich and create so many echoes of the ideas and work of Mary Watts. It was a truly international evening here for the opening with all kinds of languages being spoken but primarily Russian. Andrea Rose OBE CMG, former head of Visual Arts at the British Council, spoke powerfully about the unique initiative of Watts Gallery in undertaking international links with other Artist studio house museums. This is creating new exchanges, new exhibitions, new research and a new appreciation of the different settings which have inspired artists.
The efforts to save the Watts Studios was given a boost by the pure dedication and energy of a number of staff members who have decided to turn the fundraising swim into a triathlon. A group undertook a 42 mile cycle ride across the Hogs Back and on Saturday 6 December another group is going to be running 11. 7K around the Surrey Hills. This is commitment indeed and we are now just over our target of £10,000, thank you so much to everyone who donated. More donations are very welcome, with £600,000 still left to reach the final target and Save the Watts Studios.
Watts Gallery is also taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge to support the Art for All programme, all those who would like to support this can give online on the 4, 5 or 6 December. If the target is reached these donations could be doubled.
I am humbled by the continuing support of volunteers and donors. Each and every gift makes a difference and I would like to thank everyone, particularly the donor who at the 12th hours stepped up to help fund A Russian Fairytale. Thank you.