The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Mrs Watts prefigured 60s concrete murals?

Just been to the newly revamped Watts Gallery, near Guilford, which is looking magnificent (architects were ZMMA).   I remember trips here as a child, the damp, the crumbling partitions, the fruit and veg honesty box in the loggia, and most of all the rather scary curator, Wilfred Blunt (all the more  fascinating as we knew his brother was a spy)….  All that’s gone of course, but the nearby mortuary chapel is still very much the same, built by Mrs Watts and the villagers.   Pinned up inside it is a copy of an article written by Blunt in 1966 for The Connoisseur.     He suggests that the wall over the main door “in a curious way anticipates those abstract reliefs which are often to be found on the facades of contemporary buildings and like them it is used to contrast with large, plain surfaces.”   I  guess I may have read this back in the 70s, but I’d not consciously registered the similarities when working on our post war murals project, I wonder if any of that generation of artists did know of Mrs Watts?  Here’s the doorway and a detail….




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