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Opening of the Watts Studios

Opening on Tuesday 26 January 2016

G F and Mary Watts, Victorian artists and visionaries, built their home, Limnerslease, in the Surrey Hills among the breath-taking scenery of the Pilgrims' Way. The Watts Studios will restore that sense of wonderment found at Limnerslease, bringing back G F and Mary Watts's vision of 'Art for All' and adding a new exciting element to the Artists' Village.

In the G F Watts Studio, the smell of oils and varnish will fill the air, and strewn on desks will be letters in the artist's own hand. Around the room will be unfinished canvases displayed on easels or suspended from the rafters in this vast cathedral-like space. The recreation of G F Watts's studio will transport the visitor back to his workspace, allowing them to explore the artistic processes of one of the 19th century's most eminent artists.

An entire gallery will be devoted to the work of Mary Watts, displaying works of art never seen before alongside pieces delicately and painstakingly restored to their former glory, including the Aldershot Panels. Mary's personal thoughts and notes will be present in the form of archival diaries, notebooks and films giving an insight into the life of Mary and her position in the local community.

The Compton Gallery will create links between the Wattses and the local area. A specially commissioned film, charting the heritage of Limnerslease and its national cultural importance, will introduce visitors to the Arts & Crafts house on the hill. Accompanying this, archival material and paintings of the Surrey landscape that will help complete the story of the Wattses Artists' Village in Compton.

The lively and creative atmosphere of the Watts Studios will be revived through craft workshops for all from under 5s to 95s, and an in-house conservator will also be busy at work restoring Compton Pottery.

Visit the Artists' Village and see the opening of Watts Studios: Unlocking the past and making the future.