Published: 08 July 2015

Director of Watts Gallery - Artists' Village awarded prestigious 2015 Guildford Roll of Honour

Perdita Hunt OBE DL, Director of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, has been awarded the prestigious Guildford Roll of Honour award for 2015.

At a celebratory dinner in Guildford’s Guildhall on Wednesday 8 July – attended by representatives from education, business and the public service - Perdita Hunt received the Award in recognition of the substantial contribution she has made to local tourism and to Guildford’s visitor economy through the restoration of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village.  Perdita Hunt is the first woman to be nominated for this award.

The Guildford Roll of Honour award, made annually, honours an individual who has made a substantial impact to the economic wealth, social well-being or artistic culture of Guildford and the surrounding area. The initiative is a joint venture between the University of Surrey and Guildford Borough Council.   

Perdita Hunt has dedicated her distinguished career to the promotion and development of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village. The Hope Project, completed in 2011, saw the restoration of the Grade II-listed 1904 Arts and Crafts gallery in the heart of the Surrey Hills. 

Perdita has worked tirelessly in her aim to reinstate the Victorian Artists’ Village in Compton, complete with Watts Chapel, Gallery, Pottery building and Limnerslease, the artists’ home and studio. Through developing the ‘Art for All’ outreach programme, the Artists’ Village has offered the local community a chance to improve their lives through art and the exhibitions.  The Artists’ Village and its accompanying events programme bring over 30,000 visitors a year to the small Surrey village. 

Perdita Hunt has been Director of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village for 11 years and in June was awarded an Order of The British Empire in the Queen’s Honours for her Services to the Arts. 

Speaking about the award she said: “The restoration of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village could not have been achieved without the vision and support of Guildford Borough Council and the University of Surrey.  It was a project for the community, creating employment, education and volunteering opportunities.  Like the University of Surrey, the Artists' Village will be a beacon for Guildford and surrounding area, strengthening the town's position regionally, nationally and internationally. From crucible of Arts & Crafts movement to 5G Innovation Centre at the University, Guildford is where innovation happens!” 

Keith Robson, Director of Enterprise and Growth at the University of Surrey, added: "Perdita was a marvellous choice for this year's Guildford Roll of Honour award.  She has not only raised the status of Watts Gallery at national and international level, she has also put it at the heart of the community.  She genuinely deserves this honour." 

The Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith, said: “It is truly inspiring to hear how Perdita’s passion for the Arts has made the Watt’s Gallery – Artist’s Village what it is today. The change from when it was first featured, falling into disrepair, on The BBC's Restoration Village in 2006 to now, when it is attracting tens of thousands of people a year, is a stunning achievement. It currently enables local people as well as visitors to the area, a chance to benefit from the Watts legacy. We are very lucky to have Perdita championing the Arts locally and the Roll of Honour Award not only recognises her achievements but expresses our thanks on behalf of the community.” 

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