Watts Chapel

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I find great solace in art, especially art that conveys the beauty and longing of the human soul. Ever since I  saw an article on the Watts chapel – 16 years ago –  I’ve longed to see it. I didn’t realize until I finally drove down to Compton, Surrey on wednesday (the start of my ‘soul travels’ week off) that it is a memorial chapel dedicated  ‘for the comfort and help of those to whom the sorrow of separation remains’.  How apt. Scottish artist Mary Watts built this tiny terra-cotta gem  and intricately adorned it with celtic and art nouveau motifs. Visitors enter under 15 angels, some looking down in sympathy, others up in hope. It is just 24 feet in diameter and is based on the eternal circle and the tree of life. I sat for an hour meditating in its peaceful embrace. Mary who had never built anything before, didn’t worry about what others thought.  She married the love of her life, George Frederic Watts, a celebrated Victorian artist (and the first living artist to have a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York) when she was 37 and he was 69.  He died the year that her chapel was finished in 1904

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