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Watts Gallery artist in residence Deborah Gourlay

PUBLISHED: 12:11 28 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:03 20 February 2013

Watts Gallery artist in residence Deborah Gourlay

Watts Gallery artist in residence Deborah Gourlay

Artist in residence at the newly reopened Watts Gallery in Compton, Deborah Gourlay says it's been an exciting time seeing the newly restored gallery come to life again.

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2011


Artist in residence at the newly reopened Watts Gallery in Compton, Deborah Gourlay says its been an exciting time seeing the newly restored gallery come to life again.


Dedicated to the work of Victorian artist George Frederic Watts, the gallery reopened last month following a multi-million pound refurbishment.


At the start of my residency, the gallery was under tarpaulin, but it has been very interesting to witness the changes as the gallery has slowly revealed itself, says Deborah, 55, who lives in Tilford.


Its all a long way from her childhood, which was spent in South and Central America and where her artistic tendencies first showed themselves.


The colours, patterns and architecture were an exciting backdrop from which to draw inspiration, she says. There are wonderful examples of papier-mch in Latin America and this became a regular feature of my childhood art-making.


Having recently completed a five-year degree in fine art, today Deborah works mainly in charcoal, loving its expressive and atmospheric qualities. She has also developed a fascination with empty, derelict spaces, which has seen her working inside warehouses and at Battersea Power Station.


I was thrilled to have been chosen as Watts Gallerys artist in residence, says Deborah. As part of the residency, I will be working on a body of work using the Watts collection and buildings as inspiration, and this will culminate in an exhibition in November.


Continuing Watts philosophy of making art accessible to all, the gallery runs many outreach projects and workshops with connections to the homeless, HMP Send, Surrey Youth Justice Service and Street Level arts etc.


Part of Deborahs role has been to help and lead these workshops, which she says at first felt rather daunting.


I feel very proud to be given this opportunity and have found the experience invaluable, she says. A few years ago, I came across the Watts Chapel and thought it was an amazingly unique place, and I vowed one day to return to draw it. Now I am at present knee-deep in charcoal trying to complete a large 10-foot triptych of it.



  • See Deborah Gourlay at Watts Gallery, Down Lane, Compton, Guildford GU3 1DQ: 01483 810235

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