Watts Gallery

Down Lane, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ

Deep in the bucolic embrace of tiny little Compton is this, the only gallery in the UK devoted to a single artist. But actually, it's far more than a gallery - it's an artists' village, complete with a chapel, a cemetery, a country manor, a cafe and a shop (and, of course, an actual gallery). The centrifugal point around which all of this revolves is the memory and work of the prolific Victorian-era painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts - 'England's Michelangelo' as he has been described. Set in an architecturally brilliant building, with top-lit galleries that allow Watts's work to be displayed under natural light, the gallery displays over 100 paintings and sculptures by the supremely talented artist. As well as Watts' work, it also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Outside, next to the atmospheric graveyard, is the wonderfully idiosyncratic Watts Cemetery Chapel, a terracotta tower that celebrates the life of Watts, but which is the the creative legacy of his second wife Mary. The design demonstrates a heady cocktail of influences, including  art nouveau, Celtic, Romanesque, Pre-Raphaelite and Egyptian - with a few of Mary's own flavours chucked in for good measure. The Watts were firm believers that, by encouraging ordinary people to take up handicrafts, you could keep them out of the pub, and to this end the chapel was physically built and decorated by locals under Mary's direction. Since 2005, Watts Gallery has run an Artist in Residence programme, under which it supports a graduate from the University for the Creative Arts for one year as they develop their style. 

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