Posted 29th March 2016
Watts Contemporary Gallery
On Thursday 3 March 2016 Watts Gallery – Artists' Village welcomed Richard and Rev. Ann Fraser for a private tour and cream tea as the couple celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. The visit was arranged following a call from the Frasers's daughter to Radio Surrey congratulating her parents on fifty years of marriage.
Ann recalls, 'Mark Carter, the presenter, suddenly said that he would like to offer us tea at Watts Gallery. Before the end of the programme, Watts Gallery had rung in to offer us a tour of the gallery and tea at their expense. We went there soon after the big day and were treated like royalty!'
Before their visit, Ann and Richard celebrated their special day with a church service for 150 family members and friends, followed by a gathering complete with hog roast. Later they visited the Artists' Village for what Ann describes as, 'A really happy afternoon and enjoyable visit,' adding that 'we hope to bring many friends and family to enjoy it in the future.'
The couple had visited Watts Gallery prior to its restoration in 2011, remarking that they remember it being a rather 'dark and gloomy' atmosphere. This return visit — which included a private tour of the newly restored Watts Studios — provided a new introduction to the Artists' Village, and Richard expressed that while he had not known much about G F & Mary Watts before, it was interesting to learn the history behind the art before having a chance to explore Watts Gallery with fresh eyes.
The tour of Watts Studios was a highlight for the couple, with both praising their guide as 'so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. It was an absolutely fascinating hour,' Ann said. 'Their artistic talents and philosophy of life made a huge impact on the late Victorian art scene.'
'Small and precious artefacts are preserved in glass-topped drawers, giving the whole exhibition a very intimate and personal feel alongside some very imposing portraits and landscapes. Contrast the tiny writing and dainty jewellery with the intricate and large triptych and panels made for a military chapel, and the true breadth of talent and skill of this couple is evident.'
The Frasers also received a free guidebook as well as a voucher for The Tea Shop, which they reviewed as 'delightful, with bone china, real teapots and homemade scones. Again we were feted as the “golden couple” and treated very generously.'
The couple had planned to revisit to the gallery after having been introduced to Director Perdita Hunt on a train eighteen months ago, around the time she received the Order of the British Empire. Having now made their return visit, they call Watts Gallery, 'A gem in the countryside indeed.'
Watts Gallery – Artists' Village is honoured to have hosted the Frasers, and we extend our deepest congratulations on their golden anniversary! We look forward to hosting them again in the future.