"I can now see why this Gallery is very special!"
When a builder from Blenheim House Construction, the contractor who took on the Hope restoration project following the demise of R J Barwick Construction, said to me last week "I can now see why this Gallery is very special!", I knew that we were making real progress! The Isabel Goldsmith Patino Gallery, the Weston Gallery, the Graham Robertson Gallery and the Livanos Gallery, the historic green and red galleries are now cleared of scaffolding as we prepared to relay the parquet floor. Timing is getting tight as we hope to start putting up the restored rich red wall paper from 22 November, and we, of course, hope to have the Gallery back by Christmas. Next week the first incumbents of the Gallery will move in - Physical Energy and Tennyson. This is exciting and a real milestone.
As always when I think about the sad Gallery I first saw, cold, with water coming through the roof, dark and dirty paintings, to see the restored roof, the gold ceiling and to know that the collection on show has all been conserved, I can only feel such humble gratitude to all
those who have done so much to make this possible. It was most generous of Rupert Hambro and Goldsmiths' to allow us to host a reception to thank our many donors. Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain, spoke most movingly about the pivotal importance of Watts's sculpture Clytie which we had on show that evening.
The acts of support and friendship do not stop. A volunteer, a sculptor and a keen gardener has agreed to lead a project of preparing plants among the many green fingered volunteers, for planting at the Gallery in the spring. What a gift. Furthermore, the father of our head of Learning, David Lewis has so generously undertaken the restoration of the Pug Mill, part of the industrial history of the Watts Gallery Estate. The Pug Mill was used to compress the clay to remove the water, and this was achieved by a horse turning the mill. We are immensely grateful to Lloyds British who have undertaken all the engineering work. What generosity.