2018: Director's Round Up

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Posted 30th December 2018

2018: Director's Round Up

Alistair Burtenshaw
Director, Watts Gallery - Artists' Village

As 2018 draws to a close over the holiday season, I have been reflecting on the past year at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village.

It has been quite a year thanks to our visitors, volunteers, staff and supporters who make our work in the local community and for audiences from far and wide so enjoyable.

This year saw three beautiful and illuminating new gallery exhibitions – The Cecil French Bequest: A Pre-Raphaelite Collection Unveiled, James Henry Pullen: Inmate, Inventor, Genius and Christina Rossetti: Vision and Verse, together with temporary displays in the Mary Watts Studios Mary Watts: Pioneering Suffragist and Fire and Earth: The Compton Pottery. Meanwhile in our Contemporary Gallery we have had no less than five exhibitions of contemporary art by local, national and international artists including Horses in Art: Reimagined, Florabundance and In Print: Making Impressions, to name a few.

We have also been fortunate to be able to re-display the Studios and unveil new acquisitions in the galleries. In our public programmes, our renowned Art for All programme now extends to over 29,100 participations a year – often supporting the most vulnerable in our community as well as music, performance, making, and of course leading writers – from Miranda Seymour to Henry Marsh, the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and many more. Outdoors, this year saw two site-specific installations – Liminal Lease by Bryn Hallett and From Humble Beginnings by Steven Edwards - and exciting artists' residencies.

Looking back, it was wonderful that we were able to develop and grow our Signature Events with a new Make Festival and expanded events across the year. This year also saw the launch of our new International Women's Day conference, our first Arts and the Criminal Justice System workshop, a Christina Rossetti conference and the honour of playing host to the Mayor of Guildford's Women's Suffrage Dinner, one hundred years to the day from the casting of the first votes by women. In London our new Bronze cast of G. F. Watts's sculptural masterpiece Physical Energy was displayed in the Annenberg Courtyard of the Royal Academy as part of their 250th anniversary celebrations, before its scheduled arrival at the Watts Gallery next year.

As we look forward to 2019, I very much hope you will join us for an exciting programme of exhibitions, residencies, displays, events, creativity and making as well as our renowned Shop and Tea Shop! So as you plan your year, I hope you'll make a note to spend a day at 'the Watts' and be amazed at what's on offer. We look forward to welcoming you.

Alistair Burtenshaw

Banner image: Physical Energy in the Annenberg Courtyard at the Royal Academy of Arts.

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