I visited the Watts Memorial Chapel recently – you may have seen the Watts Gallery on the BBC Restoration programme a few years ago, and the Gallery has recently been reopened after a renovation project lasting six years and costing £11.6 million. The Gallery, in Compton, Surrey, is interesting, if you like sombre high-Victorian art, but the most interesting place to visit is the Memorial Chapel a short walk away. Lucinda Lambton described it:
“It is no exaggeration to say that the Watts Cemetery Chapel is one of the most beautiful, one of the most extraordinary, original, marvellous and magical buildings in the whole of the British Isles”
I would say it’s the most unexpected and awe-inspiring buildings I’ve visited, and what made my day complete was bumping into an old friend! Not literally, but a face in terracotta had such a striking resemblance to the logo of the Society of Graphic Fine Art it made me stop in my tracks. When I joined the SGFA in 2007, I was told that there was no record of the designer of the Society’s logo, the merest hint being the initials G.I. discreetly hidden in the image.
Could I be about to solve the riddle of G.I.? Sadly not without a great deal of research which will have to be postponed until next year, unless you know anything that may shed some light? The SGFA logo is armoured, and has a more martial and confrontational air while the Watts image is gentler and contemplative, but stylistically they are not so far apart. I’d love to know more!