PAinting as ruin

Charlie Betts and Anna Garrett

2019 International Women’s Day Exhibition and Workshop

Since their residency at the Watts Gallery Artists’ Village from 2017-8, artists Charlie Betts and Anna Garrett have been fascinated by the inspiring stories of two highly successful and influential 19th century creative women - Mary Watts and Gertrude Jekyll. 

During their time immersed in the Watts Gallery surroundings, the artists worked in the landscape of the Limnerslease woodland making drawings, paintings and prints. Stepping back in time through reading Mary’s diary brought the setting of Limnerslease to life- Charlie and Anna found the friendship between the two strong Victorian women inspiring, who together collaboratively designed the Watts woodland landscape we see today.

Moreover, the contemporary artists became particularly interested in Mary and Gertrude’s involvement in the suffragist movement and the local history of women’s activism, in response creating banners and staging their own march through the woodland. 

For international Women’s Day 2019 the artists invite you to consider the woodland, nature and plants of the surroundings at Limnerslease that are infused with the history of Mary Watts and her contemporaries. Anna and Charlie’s multi-media work will be displayed in the woodland and parts of the house, and they welcome you to join a workshop in the Clore Studio to create drawings and a collaborative nature banner.


‘Assemblage is metaphysical as well as physical and realistic. The fabric of meaning woven by materials can cover the distant in time and space, awakening a romantic response to ruins, architectural and sculptural fragments and the evocative richness of old walls or ritual vessels. As element is set beside element, the many qualities and auras of isolated fragments are compounded, fused, contradicted so that physical matter becomes poetry.

William Seitz, The Art of Assemblage, 1961



Painting as Ruin explores ideas of the deconstructed painting, the materiality and physicality of the painting object: merging the practices of Charlie Betts and Anna Garrett, to celebrate accidental monuments in the ephemeral potential of the combined work.

The collaborative works teeter on the edge of collapse, with a sculptural quality that creates a fresh response to the idea of painting. Painting as Ruin poses the question of the tension between structure and surface. Changing the structural reality of the work, the artists expose the rawness of the canvas and frame – revealing an honest, sensual yet brutal and raw nature to the constructed painting.



I think it works because of the diagonal line that leads your eye through the centre.JPG


The pieces might nod toward the notion of a ‘romantic response’ to ruins, however the artists address a subversion, exposing truth within the painting object, a broken structure that echoes in the ruined architecture.

Painting as Ruin was shown at Harts Lane, London in 2016.