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“These workshops have given me my life back and shown me my talents which have been hidden.”

Art for All participant 2019


The 2019 Art for All exhibition opens at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village on 14 June (until 30 June.)


This year marks the 11th anniversary of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village renowned Art for All exhibition, showing almost 1000 works of art made over the previous twelve months by vulnerable young people, young offenders, isolated and lone parents, women prisoners and adults affected by mental health issues, homelessness and addiction.


Inspired by the art and ideas of Watts Gallery’s founders – the great Victorian artist George Frederic Watts OM RA (1817 -1904) and his wife, the designer Mary Watts (1849 – 1938) – the Art for All programme delivers artist-led workshops to socially excluded and vulnerable groups, enabling the development of new and transferable skills in order to build self-confidence and contribute to rehabilitation.  This year the programme has reached almost 1000 people, with 2602 participations, across 306 workshops.


124 years after Mary Watts first opened the doors of her home and studios to welcome local people in to learn new creative skills and to participate in art classes and social enterprise, Art For All continues the inclusive ethos of the artist founders. Art for All encourages participants who would otherwise face barriers to access art and museums and enables the development of skills, qualifications, employment and rehabilitation.


As a social enterprise, all works are for sale with profits benefiting the artists and helping to fund the learning and outreach programme across the year – mirroring the process of G F Watts selling smaller paintings to fund the original project 124 years ago.


This community engagement work is a strand of Watts Gallery Trust’s wider Art for All learning programme, which reached 31,113 participations in 2018-’19.


Highlights of this year’s programme include:

  • 46 Art for All participants have worked towards their Bronze Arts Award;
  • New Art for All participant Dramatize performed a play in the historic gallery spaces in response to the summer exhibition;
  • Art made by participants was exhibited at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London, the Lightbox in Woking, within HMP Send, and at Tate Liverpool and Koestler at the Southbank Centre in London;
  • 2 participants were employed, taking on paid Heritage Work Placements at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village;
  • 8 young people undertook  work experience at Watts Gallery;
  • Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village was awarded an EmployAbility Award from Surrey Choices in recognition of the opportunities offered to people with disabilities in the workplace.


And over the past 11 years:

  • Partnerships have grown from three in 2008 to 10 in 2019;
  • A total of 683 Bronze Arts Awards have been achieved since being introduced in 2015;
  • Work created through the Art for All programme has been selected for national exhibitions including the annual UK Koestler exhibition, New Beginnings at The Lightbox in Woking, Tate Liverpool and The Discerning Eye;
  • The project has been recognised in the Cultural White Paper and by the National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice as an example of best practice;
  • With support from the Michael Varah Memorial Foundation, the Art for All programme has provided a professional artist tutor to deliver weekly workshops at HMP Send since 2009;
  • A number of Art for All participants are now engaged in formal education, employment and creative social enterprise.


Commenting, Alistair Burtenshaw, Director of Watts Gallery Trust says:


“Over the last year the community engagement strand of Watts Gallery Trust’s wider Art for All learning programme has reached 2602 participations and made a positive impact on the 924 participants taking part. By working in partnership with a number of community, council and justice organisations, the programme offers art and design workshops and opportunities for people to exhibit and sell their work – culminating in the Art for All exhibition. Over the last 11 years this programme has engaged people living in Surrey who wouldn’t otherwise access the gallery and its learning and public programmes independently.”


“The community engagement work is a part of Watts Gallery Trust’s renowned Art for All learning programme which creates access to art for diverse groups from across the community and which in the last financial year reached 31,113 participations.”


An Art for All participant said:

“These workshops are a wonderful bubble in my week – a place to escape. A calm creative time to be me, escape my normal life and be free! These sessions have given me a sense of achievement and a feeling of belonging to a group. It has been an activity to look forward to each week and a joy to meet the other participants.”


The Art for All exhibition at Watts Contemporary Gallery opens on 14 June (until 30 June). Watts Contemporary Gallery is open daily, 10.30am – 5.15pm, open times of the Old Kiln can be found on the website.  FREE ENTRY. Most of the art work is for sale.


For further information:          @WattsGallery         facebook/thewattsgallery