Press Story

Images available here

Watts Gallery Trust today announces the appointment of four new Trustees via open recruitment. They are:

Sarah King, Chair of Trustees

Sarah King’s career in journalism and PR spans more than 30 years, working for a wide range of clients in the commercial, public and not for profit sectors. She has served on the boards of several leading London consultancies in a variety of senior roles, including as managing director, as well as over 20 years' experience as a non-executive director of both commercial organisations and charities.

Sarah’s volunteer roles reflect her interest in the arts, education, the environment and community action. As Chair of Polka Theatre - one of Britain's leading arts venues for children visited by over 100,000 children a year – she oversaw the successful completion of Polka’s first ever capital project, raising £9m to redevelop the site as a lively community hub for young families.

She is also a member of the governing College Council of Royal Holloway, University of London which has one of the finest collections of 19th century paintings in the country.

Sarah recently stepped down as Chair of Hillgate Public Relations and was previously a trustee of the Careers Development Group (now Shaw Trust) and First Step Trust and was on the Global Fundraising Board of the aid and sustainable development charity, Tearfund. She also mentors young people in the charity and arts sectors.

Cedric Ntumba, Treasurer and Chair of the Finance and Buildings Committee

Cedric Ntumba is Chief Executive of Little Ashford school group, Chair of London Bubble Theatre, Member of the Stowe School Parents’ Committee and on the Board of SOAS, University of London. He has previously served as Chair of the South African Ballet Theatre (now Joburg Ballet) for a decade.

His background is in private equity, education, technology entrepreneurship, company start-up and investment and company directorship. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Cedric, a Chevening Scholar, worked for Deloitte, a leading private equity firm and sat on several large Boards before setting up his private family investment office in 2012, with assets in early years education and software/app development, the first of several businesses he has established in South Africa and the UK.

Cedric is currently reading for his MBA at the University of Edinburgh’s Business School and his MA in International Affairs at King’s College London.

Gursimran Oberoi, Art Historian Trustee

Gursimran Oberoi is an art historian who specialises in the international and political reception histories of Victorian art. Her upcoming book, Global Watts: Symbolism, Fame and Activism(1880-Present Day), examines the display and appropriation of symbolist artworks by George Frederic Watts in the International Women’s Rights, Indian Independence and African American Civil Rights Movements. It is based on a Collaborative Doctoral Award completed at the University of Surrey and Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village and inspired by the Gallery’s Art for All by All vision to ultimately enrich understanding of the artist’s legacy.

Gursimran has also published on wider themes of nineteenth-century art, gender and radicalism and her essay, ‘The Collective Self-Portrait: Drawing Elizabeth Siddal in the New Woman Sisterhood’ is included in the catalogue accompanying Tate Britain’s 2023 exhibition, The Rossettis.

Gursimran has previously served on governance committees at key bodies in Higher Education and the Arts, including Royal Holloway, University of London and the Association for Art History.

She currently manages the Clinical Academic Training Office at King’s College London in addition to the university’s prestigious flagship PhD programme in Mental Health Research for Health Professionals. She is also an Associate Teaching Fellow at the University of Surrey.

Ulric Neblett-Leigh, Learning and Engagement Trustee

Ulric Neblett-Leigh graduated in 1993 from the University of Surrey with a degree in Hotel and Catering Management. After an international hospitality career including working at the Hilton Amsterdam, Disneyland Paris and London’s Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, he achieved a long-held dream and retrained in 2005 as a Primary School teacher. 18 years in education then followed including more recently leading a number of schools in West Sussex and Hampshire.

Ulric has been a school Governor for many years, the Chair, and separately, Treasurer of Worthing Black History Group and he has a keen interest in the arts.
The appointments of Sarah King and Cedric Ntumba are in succession to MaryAnne Stevens, Chair of Watts Gallery Trust, and Robert Napier, Treasurer, who have completed their terms for the charity. The appointment of Dr Gursimran Oberoi is in succession to Dr Malcolm Rogers, CBE who has completed his term with the charity.

Alistair Burtenshaw, Brice Director and Chief Executive, Watts Gallery Trust, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Sarah, Cedric, Gursimran and Ulric to our Board, and their experience and expertise will be hugely valuable to Watts Gallery Trust as we further develop our mission of delivering Art for All by All.”

“On behalf of everyone at Watts Gallery Trust, I convey sincere thanks to MaryAnne Stevens, Robert Napier and Malcolm Rogers for their dedication and extraordinary service to our charity. Under their governance leadership, Watts Gallery Trust has gone from strength to strength, extending its visitor offer to include the interiors of Limnerslease, the former home of artists G F and Mary Watts, overseeing the exterior restoration of the Grade I listed Watts Cemetery Chapel, significantly developing both our dynamic artistic and social impact offers, and making significant improvements to the infrastructure of our 18-acre site and renowned historic buildings.”

Sarah King, whose appointment takes effect from 29 May 2023, said:

“I have been coming to Watts Gallery for years, so I know what a lively and friendly place it is, with the breadth of activity and spectacle on offer, and the lovely woodland setting.”

“But what really drew me here was the vision that Mary and George Watts had when they created it – that art and creativity more broadly, have a role in the lives of everyone. The Wattses turned the traditional artist’s studio and home into an innovative social experiment that provided training and jobs and created one of the most extraordinary small buildings in the country – Watts Chapel. Today, Watts Gallery Trust upholds this founding vision of ‘Art for All by All’ and is working hard to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to see art and create art.”

“I am delighted to be joining the Trust as Chair, and helping ensure the future sustainability of this important organisation is a priority.”

Cedric Ntumba said:

“It is an immense privilege to assume the role of Treasurer at the Watts Gallery and join a dedicated Board of Trustees and colleagues. Together, we are resolved to steer a course of financial sustainability, creating an environment where the arts continue to flourish and inspire. I am proud to stand as one of the many guardians of our institution's cultural heritage and, just as importantly, as architects of a future rich with creativity, cultural enrichment in our broader community, and financial robustness."

Gursimran Oberoi said:

“I am both honoured and delighted to be joining the Board of Trustees at Watts Gallery - Artists’ Village. The Watts is a treasure trove in Surrey right around the corner from Guildford. With a bountiful collection of galleries showcasing Victorian and Contemporary art, an artist in residence studio, splendid cafe, shop and beautiful grounds, it makes a brilliant day out with friends and family.”

“While completing a PhD here in partnership with the University of Surrey, I was always impressed by the dedication of Watts staff and volunteers who worked in innovative ways to uphold the Gallery’s mission of ‘Art for All by All’ as set forth by their founders, George and Mary Watts. I’m excited to work with the Watts team and colleagues on the Board to maintain and grow the Gallery’s reputation at home and abroad.”

Ulric Neblett-Leigh said:

“I’m delighted to have been successfully appointed to the position of Learning and Engagement Trustee. I come to the role with a long-standing love of art and over 15 years in the state education sector as a teacher and leader. I look forward to using this experience to strengthen and develop the opportunities for learning and engagement at Watts Gallery.”

Watts Gallery Trust is grateful to for their support in the application processes for the Learning & Engagement and Treasurer positions.

For further information:

Twitter @WattsGallery
Instagram @wattsgallery
Facebook /wattsgalleryartistsvillage

- ENDS -

For further press information:

Tamsin Williams – – 07939 651252

Note to Editors:

Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village

Watts Gallery Trust is an independent charity established in 1904 to enable future generations to connect with the art and ideas of George Frederic Watts, one of the leading artists of the nineteenth century, and his artist-wife, Mary Seton Watts.

G F Watts OM RA (1817-1904) was widely considered to be the greatest painter of the Victorian age. He became the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the artist’s ‘gift to the Nation’ made a significant contribution to the founding collections of Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.

Mary Watts (1848-1939) was an artist, designer, writer, businesswoman and philanthropist. Her art supported and inspired the people around her, involving local communities in her projects. She was the creative powerhouse behind two significant enterprises: the Watts Chapel and the Compton Potters’ Arts Guild.

Today, Watts Gallery - Artist’s Village continues George and Mary Watts's legacy of Art for all by all. This vision to make art accessible to everyone is realised through a dynamic and multi-sensory programme of creativity, exhibitions, contemporary art projects and community engagement. Read more.