Friday, October 24, 2014

Watts in Compton*

Watts Mortuary Chapel (above) is a beautiful Grade I listed building in Compton, Surrey. Designed by artist and sculptor George Frederic Watts' wife, Mary Watts, it was built at the height of the Arts and Craft movement, between 1896 and 1898. Involving all the village residents in Watts, it's a gem of a chapel with highly decorative art nouveau and celtic influences. Aldous Hexley is buried in the chapel grounds. Near the chapel in Compton is the Watts Gallery, a charming builiding housing hundreds of Watt's paintings and sculptures. Opened in 1904, it was Britain's first gallery to be dedicated to one individual artist.

Many of Watts' symbolist paintings can be seen in the Tate gallery in London but it's his Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park near St Paul's that remains his most moving testimony. Its wall of tiles tells the tales of 'ordinary' people who lost their lives saving others. Some of the tiles are designed by Willem de Morgan (including the one below) and later ones by Royal Doulton.
*My, how I struggled to come up with an amusing pun on Watts and Compton – both being rough neighbourhoods in South Central L.A., and Compton, UK, being in sleepy Surrey (and Watts being in Compton). Watts (in L.A.) is also home to the Watts tower, an amazing series of sculptures, one of the most extraordinary pieces of 'outsider art' ever created.

1 comment :

T1000 said...

Straight out of Compton - Crazy mother named Frederic - Built a chapel with decorations celtic!