#VolunteerVoice: Mary Watts's Diary

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Posted 29th June 2018

Mary Watts's Diary: Fatima and the Lamb

As a Volunteer at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village, I would recommend dipping into Mary Watts's diary in conjunction with your visit. This will not only give you an idea of the man behind the paintings but also, and perhaps more importantly, the diary will shed light on the couple behind the paintings.

Mary's diary describes life with an interesting, intelligent, kind and rather frail man who also happens to be a famous artist. 'Fatima' – Mary's nickname for her diary – is both companion and confidante during the early years of the marriage when Mary worries about fitting into her husband's world. Signor or 'Little Lamb' worries more about being cared for, referring to himself as 'a rickety machine!' but feels safe now that he has Mary in his life.

Watts, we learn, is not good at saying 'I love you!', gets cross if things don't go his way, enjoys a scrub, likes billiards and getting up at 4am and suffers from anxiety attacks before travelling. Mary doesn't like getting up at 4am, is happy working tirelessly both on the Cemetery Chapel and the Compton Pottery, prefers going to Church outside rather than inside and loves violets.

Mary is very supportive of her husband in his role as a prominent artist. The couple have to contend with an endless stream of visitors into their home. It is, however, of the quiet times they spend alone together that Mary writes so lovingly.

Mary entertains us not only with stories of the 'sorrows of the artist's wife' (albeit with tongue in cheek!) and her husband's tendency to lose the magic of a painting through constant reworking but also with domestic tales like Watts's ridiculous struggle to get on with his new Jaeger wool drawers!

What's very clear is their relationship is based on a genuine love and respect for each other. Mary is completely grief stricken when Watts dies and turns again to 'Fatima' for consolation reading nightly from her diary in order to 'live again with my beloved and hear his simple words'.

I hope you enjoy the read.

See you in the Gallery!

Anne Jewkes
Volunteer at Watts Gallery Artists' Village