Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Watts Gallery, Compton - Hope over Indifference

Continuing Jan, Dónall and my visit to Watt's Gallery, Compton, a delicious 'potter's' lunch on site - though really it should have been 'poetter's' - followed our visit to Lady Mary's Chapel, and then we had a look around the newly refurbished gallery itself. 

I voted for Watts' Gallery to win the 2006 final of the telly programme 'Restoration' (it came second but secured a grant from the Lottery Fund and various other sources anyhow, thanks in large part to the efforts of the villagers), so I was delighted to see the fabric of the building looking so cared for, with lovely, modern Arts and Crafts touches added here and there to good 
effect.  


Still one or two things left to do, however ... 


Inside the gallery, Watts' paintings are displayed to good effect, although I have to say that they're a bit too typically Victorian for my taste. The iconic 'Hope' - apparently (and rather conveniently) Barak Obama's favourite painting, and the name given to the campaign to save the gallery - is the subject of one of the exhibitions.  I particularly liked the soft red chalk version that was on display.  I can't find a picture of it online and obviously you're not allowed to take photos yourself, so this version below will have to do.


I do have a favourite Watt's painting and it's the wonderful portrait of William Morris, in which the sitter comes across as some sort of magical green man - which is pretty apt, really.  It's (quite properly) in the National Portrait Gallery, however, not at Compton. 



Watts' sculpture is also on display - huge gesso grosso models, including one for the memorial statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson at Lincoln.  I was delighted to learn that Tennyson's wolfhound, seen gazing up at her master, was called Karenina. 






Next, we visited Jan and Dónall's artist friends, whose house was open as part of Guildford Arts Trail.  Then there was just time to squeeze in a visit to Guildford Cathedral. More about that anon.








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