The Watts Gallery is a national art gallery in the heart of a village in Surrey, dedicated to the eminent Victorian artist G.F. Watts OM RA (1817-1904). It is a wonderful organisation, with its newly renovated Gallery and significant social programmes invoking the philosophy of George Frederick and Mary Seton Watts, who believed in providing ‘art for all’.
The Hazelhurst Trust has supported the Hope Appeal and subsequently contributed to Big Issues, a programme working with prisoners and young offenders. In November 2011 we helped to organise and fund a Symposium on Arts and Philanthropy entitled ‘Lessons from the Past’ held at the Gallery. In May 2012, together with Watts Gallery, we held a similar event in London hosted by The Bulldog Trust at 2 Temple Place.
- G F Watts house, Limnerslease
In 2011 Watts Gallery Trustees were presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save Limnerslease and the Great Studio for the nation. Limnerslease was the country residence of George Frederick Watts and his wife, Mary Seaton Watts, attached to which is the artist’s Great Studio. The house and studio were designed by the Arts & Crafts architect Ernest George and lie next to the Watts Gallery, in Compton, south of Guildford, on The Pilgrim’s Way. The Hazelhurst Trust stepped in to acquire the Great Studio, to give the Gallery the time to raise the funds to acquire the property and is now supporting the Watts Gallery’s campaign to ‘Save The Studios’.
In 2012, Watts’ Gallery’s Director Perdita Hunt led an ‘extreme fundraising’ effort in swimming the Solent to raise funds for the Save the Studios appeal. She was joined by Helen Bowcock and they completed their swim in good conditions on 6th October 2012 and raised around £15,000.
In February 2016 the Studios were formally opened after a £4.6m renovation and together with the house, Limnerslease, had become a place of learning and community, offering apprenticeships, a fellowship in conservation, workshops and activities. It also provides a centre to promote the contribution and collection of Mary Seton Watts and give interpretation and history of the Cemetery Chapel. Above all it is a centre for exploring Victorian art, social history and craft and an interpretation centre for the Arts & Crafts Movement.