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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Friends' Trip to The Watts Gallery

Last month we went on our third trip of the season to the Watts Gallery set in beautiful countryside near the aptly named Hog's Back. There are special events at the gallery this year to celebrate the bicentenary of the artist's birth. Their website describes it like this:
'Watts Gallery - Artists' Village has plenty to enjoy for visitors of all ages. Engage with history and art at the newly opened Watts Studios, and discover our permanent collection of Victorian paintings and sculpture in Watts Gallery before visiting the De Morgan Collection, on long term loan to the Artists' Village.
Enjoy a quiet moment at Watts Chapel – a Grade I listed Arts & Crafts building – then explore the woodlands and grounds before treating yourself at the Tea Shop and browsing art for sale in Watts Contemporary Gallery, along with a wide selection of gifts in the Watts Shop.'
Arriving at 10.45am, we had a coffee in the tea room and then gathered together for the guided tour of Limnerslease where the Wattses lived with adjoining studio space.
 I have just added 41 photos to this blog and realise I must leave some out, quite a difficult decision, there were so many wonderful things to photograph
 Mary Watts created made this beautiful Pilgrims Way cross as a memorial to her husband, it's made from terracotta dug from the surrounding land, and was moulded at the Compton Pottery founded by Mary Watts
 Here's a photo of Limnerslease House as we approach it from below:
 Inside the house, there's a particularly beautiful rug in the living room, designed by Mary Watts for liberty's, this small section depicts a pelican feeding its young.
 I love this photo of Mary reading to her husband in the alcove of their living room.
 This jug, one of 3 pieces, made by Emma Bridgewater to celebrate the bicentenaary year of Watts' birth.
 These pieces below, with a strong Art Nouveau influence were made by Mary Watts at the Compton Pottery after she's finished work on the Chapel.
 This photo is taken in Watts' studio: 'In the G F Watts Studio, the smell of oils and varnish fills the air, and desks are strewn with letters in the artist's own hand. Around the room are unfinished canvases displayed on easels or suspended from the rafters in this vast cathedral-like space.'

 We're now gathered together outside the Watts gallery on our second guided tour
 Another view of the gallery with a splendid hollyhock growing in the gravel

 Above is a model of Physical Energy, 1884-1904, seen above in the gallery, and below with Watts seen in the right hand corner. Physical energy represented 'the restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved'. He worked on it in sections and pieced them together. There are 3 casts in bronze made from the model, one in Kensington Gardens in London, another in the National Archives of Zimbabwe in Harare, and another at the Rhodes Memorial overlooking Cape Town in South Africa.
 This sculpture is also magnificent.
 From there we looked at the DeMorgan pottery on loan, and argued over which we liked best. I loved this piece and the tile

 Time for a tea break, and behind the cafe there's this lovely planted relief of Physical Energy
 Onto our third tour of the day, The Watts Chapel designed by Mary Watts
 This was most peoples favourite part of the day, the chapel is magnificent and could easily be missed after the splendours of the rest of the Watts Village. The door is beautiful with so many designs in the terracotta that I decided I needed to know more about them and so bought a book explaining their significance in the shop.On the right, Marion can be seen fiddling with her photos on her phone.
 I'll select a few of the many photos of the inside of the chapel to give you an idea of how magnificent it is.

Details of flowers:

 I'll finish with a quote from Penelope Keith and a summary from their website:

 'I had no idea that here in Surrey, there was a collection of such richness and a story of such depth. That one man with his devoted wife could leave so much — which makes Compton a unique artists' village and Watts one of the most important artists and philanthropists of the 19th century.' — Penelope Keith CBE DL

'Watts Gallery - Artists' Village is a unique Arts & Crafts gem nestled in the Surrey Hills. Discover stunning Victorian paintings and sculpture in the historic Watts Gallery before treating yourself to lunch or a cream tea in the Tea Shop. Wander to the nearby Grade I listed Watts Chapel, taking in the beautiful woodlands and grounds, or find out more about the lives of G F and Mary Watts at Watts Studios before taking a tour of the artists' home, Limnerslease. In the Pottery Building there is art for sale in the Watts Contemporary exhibition along with a wide selection of gifts, books and homewares in the Shop.'

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