On a grey damp day my BBG colleague Chris and I went to Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey. The last time we visited together was around twenty years ago, when we took my much loved Aunt Kath who lived locally there for lunch. Even then the Welsh Rarebit served in the café was renowned.
Neither of us has visited fOr several years, and Aunt Kath died in 2015. So this visit was somewhat overdue. Especially since we were both well aware that an important restoration project had taken place, and the gallery, once the preserve of locals, and very much below the radar, had become much better known.
The spur for the visit was, oddly enough, another my relatives. My cousin Russell is the current artist in residence and we wanted to see what he was up to.
So it was a train from London to Guildford, from where we intended to take the bus. But the buses only run once an hour and we were early, so we decided to walk. The route took us up The Mount. It’s steep. Guildford has quite a few steep hills being on a chalk escarpment. It’s the town where I grew up and gave me a respect for things hilly. At the top is the cemetery where my great grandmother and one of my great aunts are buried. We didn’t find them, but we did find Lewis Carroll’s grave, listing slightly near the chapel.
And we did find Russell. His project is to work alongside the current exhibition about Christina Rossetti. When we arrived he was working on some acrylic cut outs in the form of Rosetti’s head with words from her Goblin Men poem streaming like thoughts. It reminded me of a silhouette of one of shared ancestors that used to sit on our grandparents’ mantelpiece. I’d love to know where that is today.
In the grounds are two new installations.
Chris and I went to look at the exhibition before Russell joined us for lunch in the much improved café. Chris had the Welsh Rarebit, Russell went for the scones, and I had a yummy home made soup. We talked more about his work, about other projects in which he has been involved, both at the Watts’ Gallery and elsewhere. It turns out he has never visited Postman’s Park in London home to GF Watts’ famous memorial to to men and women, boys and girls who lost their lives committing acts of heroism.
By now the rain was steady. We all caught the 46 bus back to Guildford, with both Chris and I saying we’ll return soon.
Apparently the mausoleum has been cleaned up and we can also visit the house, so hopefully the sun will be shining for our return.