Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village has extended its online programme of exhibitions, activities and events to entertain and educate diverse audiences whilst the Artists’ Village is temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Through its website, social media channels and via the free art app Smartify, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village is making its collections, exhibitions, heritage, history and landscape accessible to everyone from home.


And through its Art for All learning programme which is inspired by the charity’s founders – the Victorian artist G F Watts OM RA (1817-1904) and his wife, the artist and designer Mary Watts (1849 – 1938) – Watts Gallery Trust is continuing to support vulnerable members of the community.


Highlights of the Watts at Home programme include:


  • Video and audio tours of Watts Gallery’s latest exhibition, Unto this Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin,which features treasures from the collections at Yale University including the Yale Center for British Art. This exhibition was open at Watts Gallery for just one week before it had to close but visitors can now enjoy a virtual tour of the show with the exhibition’s curators. The exhibition explores the legacy of John Ruskin, one of the most influential thinkers of the nineteenth century, and includes works by Ruskin, J.M.W. Turner, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones and other leading artists, many of which have rarely been seen in the UK. Unto This Last considers the impact of this influential Victorian as an artist, social reformer, ecological thinker and educator.  Available on the Smartify app and Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village YouTube channel.


  • To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters, an online lecture by Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper that will reflect on John Ruskin as artist, thinker, polemicist and environmental campaigner, delving into his travels, love of Turner and his fated relationship with Effie Gray.  Available from 7 May at 12pm.


  • An opportunity to see highlights from across the fine and decorative art collections via the ‘Watts At Home’ Smartifyaudio tour. Featuring a rolling programme of objects, the tour takes a fresh look at some of the Trust’s best-loved works and takes visitors behind the scenes to learn about some of the Gallery’s lesser-known works held in the collection stores.


  • Blogs, digital picture talks and Instagram take-overs by the Curatorial team at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village who share their latest research on the life, art and ideas of GF and Mary Watts, looking at how this artist-couple found inspiration and sanctuary in the home they created in Surrey Hills.


  • Opportunities to ‘get creating’ with The Make Space – artist-led video tutorials for all the family to enjoy, experimenting with different techniques and requiring limited resources – and Watts Tots – art activities designed for the under-5s;


  • Wellness at Watts, a programme of activities for well-being inspired by the calm that GF and Mary Watts found in the Surrey Hills.


  • Boxes of Delight – in partnership with charity Delight – which is providing art materials and activities for children who are at home with limited opportunities for learning and well-being.  This is part of the charity’s Art for All learning programme, which upholds the ethos of GF and Mary Watts who believed that art could improve people’s lives.  Today, Watts Gallery Trust continues their commitment to create access to art and to craft for people who would not ordinarily have this opportunity.


Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village closed its doors temporarily on 19 March in response to the developing situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and public health guidance. The loss of income from visitor admissions, group tours, the shop, Tea Shop, commercial gallery and events as a result of this closure is anticipated to result in a deficit of at least £200,000 this year.  The charity has launched a fundraising appeal, Hope 2020, and is seeking support:


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


“Whilst we are unable to welcome people to Watts Gallery – Artists’ village we continue to deliver our charitable mission of providing Art for All through our new free digital programme and supporting our community partners both online and by posting activity packs and creative resources. Unfortunately, like many charities we are now vulnerable due to a loss of earning. We ask our supporters and visitors to help us safeguard our future (if able) by making a donation to our charity so that we can continue to inspire, engage and transform lives. Each and every donation is essential and greatly appreciated.”


Dr Cicely Robinson, Brice Chief Curator, says:


“We hope you continue to join us as we explore the full breadth of the collections looking at our paintings, sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, and even the fantastic arts & craft buildings themselves that hold them.”


For further information:  @WattsGallery  facebook/thewattsgallery