Walking in the World

Tag Archives: Watts Chapel

Setting Forth

Another adventure begins! Jeff and I drove around the dreaded M25 to rendezvous with my long-time pilgrimage companion, Lisa Moriarty. Jeff will keep the home fires burning while Lisa and I head off on a multifaceted pilgrimage to Sweden and France.

Today was simply about catching up on our deep friendship and reestablishing the rhythms that let us travel together so successfully. We began by returning to the Watts Chapel and Gallery in Compton for lunch and a visit to the art centre that never fails to stir the soul.

Visiting the pilgrim cross that Mary Watts erected alongside the old pilgrim route to Canterbury seems the perfect start to any pilgrimage.

As usual, we found new art nestled in amongst the old, a testament to the vitality of the Watts foundation and its commitment to fostering new generations of artists. 

Further up the road, we visited the Watts Chapel with its lavish colour and symbolism.  

The red building looked splendid against the deep blue sky, and the angels with their labyrinths offered departure blessings for our own journey.

Returning to the maze that is Heathrow, we settled into our hotel for a quiet evening of fine dining and pre-pilgrimage dreaming.

01 Sep 2016

Life, Death, & Art

 

Angel2Watts

Our wandering took us to a favourite place today, the Watts Chapel and Gallery in Compton. For me, this is a place of pilgrimage on many levels. There are labyrinths and pilgrim crosses to be seen, great (gluten free) cakes to be eaten, and interesting art exhibits to be experienced. We always enjoy ourselves, and every visit seems better than the last. (You can read about our last visit here.)

FairyWatts

The current exhibit features the Victorian artist Richard Dadd who, despite spending much of his adult life in psychiatric hospitals, left a legacy of amazingly intricate and imaginative Shakespearean and fairy paintings. Not only is his art strikingly beautiful, but his keen perception and brilliant expressions of his inner world moved me to my core.This is a close-up of one section of his stunning masterpiece Contradiction: Oberon and Titania.

AngelDeath

The Gallery is also hosting a long-term exhibit of works by William and Evelyn De Morgan, which literally made me weep with emotion. I don’t often have that reaction to art, and I felt positively enlivened as stood in front of Evelyn’s vivid portrayals of classical scenes and insightful characterizations. The Angel of Death touches me in a deeply personal place, reassuring me of the love with which one is carefully carried across the threshold of death. At this time in my life when I am increasingly aware of my own mortality, I am grateful for reassurances like this. Morbid? Not at all.

WattsPilgrim Cross

The old pilgrimage trail runs through this little corner of Compton, and no visit is complete without a visit to the cross erected by Mary Watts after the death of her husband G.F. Watts. As a pilgrim, I treasure every re-connection to the Path that means so much to me.

 

20 Aug 2015

Art-Full Pilgrimage

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A new adventure begins…  A dear friend flew in from California this afternoon, so after picking her up from Heathrow we headed for tea and a walk in the small village of Compton in nearby Surrey.  Compton is home to the Watts Chapel, a unique and marvelous cemetery chapel decorated inside and out with all manner of beautiful symbols,  including four terra cotta labyrinths held by angels – one of which you might recognise from the Labyrinthos website – and another on the altarpiece inside.

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The chapel sits very close to  the old pilgrimage road that leads to Canterbury, a fact that was well-noted by artist Mary Seton Watts who created a memorial cross for her husband G. F. Watts after his death in 1904.  The cross stands within sight of both Limnerslease (the Watts’ family home) and the pilgrim path.

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05 Mar 2015

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