50 years of artist's birthplace museum

AN EXHIBITION has opened to mark five decades of a Suffolk museum dedicated to the work of one of the county's most famous sons.

James Mortlock

AN EXHIBITION has opened to mark five decades of a Suffolk museum dedicated to the work of one of the county's most famous sons.

The show at Gainsborough's House in Sudbury, the birthplace of the great British artist Thomas Gainsborough and since 1958 a museum and gallery celebrating his life and work, details the history of the building.

Diane Perkins, Gainsborough's House director, said the exhibition charted its Tudor roots and the Georgian frontage added in the 1820s by Gainsborough's father, John.

But she said it was its more recent history, from the 1950s, which made up the bulk of the show, which is on until June 7. Ms Perkins said the details surrounding the huge local fundraising campaign to buy the house and create the museum were particularly fascinating.

The house was bought in 1958 for £5,250 and the fundraising was backed by artistic greats such as Sir Alfred Munnings, who lived at nearby Dedham and handed over the £1,500 he made from selling one of his paintings

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But, said Ms Perkins, it was the amazing local effort which was so impressive: “People decided it was about time to set up a proper memorial to Thomas Gainsborough in Sudbury and the town really got behind that. The people of Sudbury made it happen - some even giving up their Co-op stamps.”

She said another section of the show was devoted to the items handed in to decorate the newly-opened gallery - from teapots to two Gainsborough drawings owned by Sudbury Town Council, which are still at the museum today.

The exhibition is rounded off with especially commissioned contemporary artistic impressions of Gainsborough's House, including works by local artist, sculptor and printmaker Zoë Rubens.

The museum is open between 10am and 5pm every day apart from Sundays and on Tuesdays admission is free. For more information call 01787 372958.

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