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Can art change the future? In the 19th century Victorian artists, viewers, and critics increasingly began to believe it could, as this exhibition explores the roots of Victorian art activism.

From the 1840s, as issues of poverty, hunger, and disease all became increasingly urgent in industrial Britain, artists began to question how their work could benefit society. From major academy oils to arts & crafts designs, Art & Action explores how artists sought not only to comment on social problems, but to use their art to actively help solve them.

Often working in conjunction with social movements, Victorian artists were at the frontline of reform efforts. Featuring key works by Sir Luke Fildes, William Morris and G F Watts, the exhibition explores how, in the Victorian era, art came to be recognised as a powerful tool that could enact social change, improve lives and ultimately shape the future.

Art & Action: Making Change in Victorian Britain is co-curated with Dr Chloe Ward, Senior Lecturer in the History of British Art at Queen Mary, University of London.

19th century art


Watts Gallery – Artists' Village

Down Lane, Guildford, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ

01483 810235

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Now Open Daily, 10.00am - 5pm
Visitor Centre, Shop, and Watts Contemporary Gallery

3 August - Tea Shop and Historic Galleries

17 August - Temporary Exhibition & Sculpture Gallery

Autumn 2020 - Limnerslease and Watts Studios

Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day

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