• Johanna Cragg

Watts and I

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

So a few weekends ago I visited the Artists Village. I had done little research but knew it was a place which had artists studios, as viewing any art is usually fun I was looking forward to it, however what I found was quite profound.


The place was beautifully organised with attention to detail. The idea a lot of money had been pumped into it from somewhere, which was pleasant and reassuring to know great thought, feeling and funds had been put into the place.

Sometimes in life there is a time and place, with the guidance of my ‘other half’ he usually hits the nail on the head. So beautiful was Watts work it almost made me feel it was made just for me. Beautiful colours (vibrant for date) of thick trailing paint, smudges of light against earthy browns and translucent aquamarine unearthly.

So who is this artist I haven’t heard of…


G. F. Watts was a Victorian artist who at a young age won a few awards which gave him monies to study in Italy as was custom, he then did some large murals as was custom but this traditional approach wasn’t to last. Something changed for Watts being so tired of the ties of tradition he wanted to create his own 'visual language’ he left the art crowd and went to a house on the outskirts of London (where current museum resides). He kept friends around and important influences and painted. He never officially joined any artists groups of the time like the pre-raphaelites, rather preferring to stay on his own. Experimenting with paint and acting instinctively to subject. Less interested in typical themes of the day he took what he required from religion and greek mythology to create his emotional moral meanings within the paintings, sometimes depicting current events. The sun and moon and thoughts on eternity, love and loss run strongly through his work.


He unfortunately was not the best at promoting himself or his work, sometimes he liked a painting so much he would not sell it. Once he exhibited in the Royal Academy and was so frustrated with the unsatisfactory placing of his work he never exhibited there again…. when he moved to the country for solitude in his craft he did not think Watts a sufficient name and adopted the name 'Signor’ given to him by a female acquaintance. Quite a character.


This painting 'the pervading, 1887’ started organically with a few brush strokes Watts then followed the shapes; like it gave its subject. This like so many other works are fascinating because they almost have a prophecy to them that rings true. There is something mystical to them that if they don't quite make sense now, one day they will…



Viewing the other works like 'The Minotaur, 1885’ it would probably make him saddened to think the future person could so closely relate to the subjects issues in the modern age, perhaps making evident mistakes unendingly repeat themselves as time evolves.

A redeeming factor to this notion is the news a painting 'Hope, 1885’, was said to be influential to a early career Barack Obama, confirming his interests in politics and giving title to campaigns and later his book.


Amazing to think of Watts painting unknowing the future influence his work but boldly going forward, compelled. Watts story resigns with me that through great thought, trust and courage great things can be achieved with art and perhaps that even a little artist like me could one day give to the world…


Please visit yourself for your own interpretation. Thank you to all involved in the museum, directors and the wonderful enthusiastic guides.


J.Cragg


https://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/

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