Opportunities Project Helps Watts Gallery and the Hazelhurst Trust to Save the Artists' Studios

Posted by Admin on 11 Feb 2013, 3:55 p.m.

A group of students from Opportunities – a pioneering community project that seeks to improve opportunities in life for lone parents and their families through the provision of vocational training – will this week visit Watts Gallery to present the Watts Gallery Trust with a cheque to help the campaign to Save the Artists’ Studios.

Through the generous support of The Hazelhurst Trust, Opportunities’ students attended a Pottery Workshop at Watts Gallery last year. Inspired by the Workshop and their visit, when the group heard that Watts Gallery’s Director, Perdita Hunt, and Hazelhurst Trust Trustee, Dr Helen Bowcock, were swimming the Solent to raise funds to rescue G.F. and Mary Watts’s Studios, Opportunities decided to hold a sponsored Zumba event in aid of the campaign, raising £100.

On Friday, the students will return to Compton to present the cheque and will enjoy a guided tour of the Artists’ Studios and house, Limnerslease.

Commenting, Watts Gallery’s Director, Perdita Hunt, said: “We are hugely grateful to Opportunities for this generous donation. Watts Gallery’s founders, the eminent Victorian artist G.F. Watts and his wife, the artist and social pioneer, Mary Watts, were passionate believers in Art for All. Watts Gallery and the Watts Chapel, a community art project led by Mary, offered more than 70 local villagers the opportunity to learn terra cotta modelling skills and resulted in the creation of the Compton Pottery, which provided employment in the village until 1956. Watts Gallery Trustees now believe in bringing art for all to meet the needs of local communities and people in Surrey.”

“Today, the Watts Gallery Trust is upholding this vision through its campaign to Save the Watts Studios – which has recently received a first-round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund – and which will enable us to extend these opportunities to many more.”

“We thank Opportunities and would also like to extend our thanks to The Hazelhurst Trust, whose incredible support is pivotal in helping us to change lives.”

Carol McFarlane, Project Co-ordinator of Opportunities Community Project, said: “For many of our students, their visit to Watts Gallery last year was the first time they had been to an art gallery and also the first time they had heard about Mary Watts and the Watts Chapel. This is an inspirational story of how an opportunity to learn practical craft skills can change lives. It’s what our own project is all about.”

“Thanks to The Hazelhurst Trust and Watts Gallery, our students had the chance to access these valuable skills and came away enthused and inspired.”

“When we learnt that Perdita and Helen were swimming the Solent to raise funds for the Save the Artists’ Studios campaign, the students were determined to help. We are all very much looking forward to our visit this week and to further workshops for our students in the coming year.”

Dr Helen Bowcock, Trustee of the Hazelhurst Trust, added: “Watts Gallery provides a welcoming and enlightening place for people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the arts. The Hazelhurst Trust has supported the Opportunities Project for five years, during which time we have seen enormous progress.”

“Working with both Watts Gallery and Opportunities, we recognised that both organisations had something special to bring to each other. We were delighted by the response to last year’s workshop and add our thanks to Opportunities for this kind donation.”

For further information on Watts Gallery’s Saving the Artists’ Studios project or to donate, please visit http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/support-us/limnerslease-project.

For further information about learning opportunities at Watts Gallery, please visit http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/learning.