Watts Studios to open 26 January

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Posted 18th January 2016

'I arrived at the hidden world of Watts Gallery as Director on 19 April 2004. I explored one of the coldest places on earth, and was given the second telephone ever to be introduced into the gallery as well as the first ever computer. When it rained we all got wet.' — Perdita Hunt, Director

Our journey in bringing this unique group of buildings created by G F and Mary Watts back to life has been one of discovery, ambition, courage and generosity. The restoration of Watts Studios has been years in the making and at last we are putting the final finishing touches to it in preparation for our opening on 26 January: volunteers are putting up willow hedging along the winding path up to the studios and the pots are being planted; text labels are being added in the studios and the last remaining objects are coming in from conservators. Touch panels are being added in the Mary Watts Gallery and G F Watts studio, and the Watts skull cap has returned for installation in the Compton gallery.

Visitors will be able to step back in time to where Watts worked on his great masterpieces such as Court of Death (on loan from Tate) suspended from the rafters, discover unfinished works and gain an insight into the man himself.

For the first time the inspiring work of designer and artist Mary Watts will be recognised in a dedicated gallery. One of my favorite objects is her illustrated photo album, which is not only beautiful but offers illuminating insights into her life.

The new Compton Gallery will allow visitors to discover the creative, social and domestic lives of G F and Mary Watts, whose husband and wife partnership offers as much fascination as the work they each produced. In the new conservation studio you will be able to see conservators at work, restoring this collection of national significance.

The founding vision of G. F. Watts and Mary Watts was to deliver Art for All and it is this goal of enhancing and transforming people's lives through art that inspires the work and activities today at Watts Gallery – Artists' Village. The new Watts Studios will add a different dimension to Watts Gallery – Artists' Village, a more immersive environment encouraging discovery and learning.

We welcome you to join us on our journey.