The Watts Studios project now under way

Posted by Admin on 29 Jan 2015, 3:57 p.m.

After years of poring over old photographs, drawing up plans, discussions with local community groups, securing grants and loans and a stringent contractor tender process, the development of the Watts Studios at Limnerslease is now under way.

The project will restore G F Watts’s studio, informed by rich photographic evidence, to its original state, using the original furniture and equipment of the artist, which remains in our care. The Drawing Room will become the Mary Watts Gallery to display her designs and interpret the unique Watts Cemetery Chapel. The third space on the first floor will become the Compton Gallery and will tell the story of the Wattses in Compton through Mary’s diaries, memories of people who worked with the Wattses and photographs.

The ground floor has in part been funded by David Pike and the Peter Harrison Foundation, and will comprise a community craft studio with the capacity to accommodate 30 school children, as well as lectures and events, and a conservation studio for a graduate from City & Guilds of London Art School. The landscape and gardens will be restored and opened to the public, making them the ideal starting point for a walk along the Pilgrim’s Way in the Surrey Hills, followed by a cup of tea and cake in the Watts Gallery Tea Shop. 

Watts Gallery Trust has never shied away from ambitious plans, and we aim for the new space to achieve nothing less than to help establish the Watts Artists’ Village as a national centre for heritage learning, research, skills development and apprenticeships: exploring Victorian art, social history, craft and design. We will also use this opportunity to expand our learning and outreach programmes, ensuring a higher level of engagement and integration with the local community.

Watts Gallery Trust acknowledges that without the support, enthusiasm and encouragement of our Friends, Patrons, volunteers and benefactors, we would not have the confidence or finances to proceed with this ambitious and important project. We are all so grateful.

Although the work has already started, we still require funding for the finer details of the project, such as display cases, the new guide book, sewing machines and art equipment for our Art for All Learning Programme, mannequins, audio-visual equipment, fixtures and fittings… we could fill this entire magazine with the list! We are still accepting donations, or gifts in kind, towards a shortfall of £334,000 which will not only ensure that Limnerslease is saved for the benefit of the nation, but also that it fufils its future purpose as a centre of art, culture and learning that is accessible to all. Every donation is important to us.

To find out how you can support this inspirational and unique project, contact the Development Team on 01483 813 581 or
development@wattsgallery.org.uk