The day often starts with a caffeine fix from the fantastic Tea Room, where we can buy a drink and something to eat, at a discounted rate, or we make ourselves a cuppa in the volunteer kitchen, while chatting to fellow stewards.  Here we meet one of our Supervisors, who brief us, telling us what’s new, what groups might be visiting that day or what special event might be on.

I have volunteered for five years and love my ‘me’ time at such a friendly organization.  Having been passionately in love with the chapel for many years, I have always felt connected to Watts Gallery and Artists Village.  The best thing is that you can help in a variety of venues and I learn something different every week from colleagues and visitors.

Every day is different,  sometimes we have a school or coach group come to explore. During holidays families get stuck into creative activities and other days it can be quiet and you can enjoy the art in the galleries or the calm of Limnerslease, the home and workplace of George Frederic and Mary Watts.  You can even imagine it’s your house, as you relax on the sofa in the sunshine, between visitors!   I enjoy imparting not only the history and the ethos of Watts to visitors, but little snippets that they won’t find in guides. The Sculpture Gallery has a fascination for children and adults laugh when you tell them that the Bronze statue of Tennyson was unveiled at Lincoln and the local press nicknamed it ‘The disappointed cabbie’.  Many children visiting believe he is looking at his mobile phone

Some of us like to Steward at both the House and the Gallery, but others prefer just to stick to one location.  Shifts last for either 2 or 3 hours or you can do a full day with a break lunch if you have the energy. Then you can always get a bit of retail therapy in the Visitors Centre (with an additional 10% off!) before leaving for the day.

We’re really lucky, as we get invited to all the Private Views with other VIP’s and have our own talks programme with the curators, where we find out more about the collections and temporary exhibitions.  There is a Volunteers Library, which you can borrow items to read on your shift, if it turns out to be a quiet one, so there is always a chance to learn something new.  People are often amazed when they enter the Studios or Galleries as many of them didn’t know this hidden gem existed, so it’s great to hear their responses and help them find their way around.  The main factor for volunteering is the “feel good” factor, as I feel responsible for keeping GF and Mary Watts ethos alive and kicking; last week my fourteen year old granddaughter fell in love with the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition and is now practicing drawing hair for her GCSE art; inspired by the Study of a Woman’s Head.

Celia Hodges

If you are interested in volunteering at the Watts Gallery, please visit