Anna Wintour backs expansion of Gainsborough’s House

Gainsborough's House.

Gainsborough's House. - Credit: Archant

One of the most powerful women in the fashion world is backing a bid to put Gainsborough’s birthplace on the map as a major national tourist attraction.

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour - Credit: PA

Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue magazine who is believed to have inspired the movie The Devil Wears Prada, has donated $10,000 (£6,500) to fund an art project at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury which will be created by French fashion designer and sculptor Nicole Farhi.

She is one of a string of celebrities who are endorsing multi-million pound plans to expand the art gallery.

In December, Gainsborough’s House trustees are due to submit an application for up to £5million of Heritage Lottery Funding to turn the neighbouring former labour exchange building into a huge three-storey exhibition space which would treble the size of the current gallery. It would include a top floor where visitors could get a panoramic view of the landscape that inspired many of Thomas Gainsborough’s most famous works.

Other high profile names backing the case for funding include fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who produces a collection of jewellery named after Gainsborough, artist Grayson Perry, TV personality Loyd Grossman and historian Simon Schama. Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, said it was fantastic that support for the project had now spread to the other side of the world.

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“We have just received a sizeable donation from Anna Wintour to fund something Nicole Fahri is doing for us which will be unveiled next year,” he said.

“The fashion and textile worlds seem to be particularly interested in Gainsborough and I think that is because he managed to capture a strong element of fashion in his portraits. Sudbury – and Gainsborough’s family – also have strong connections to the silk weaving industry, which is still thriving in the town and producing fabric for some of the world’s top fashion houses.

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“It’s brilliant for us because all of the support we have gained, both from high profile backers and from local organisations, will add weight to our application for funding to help us realise our expansion plans.”

Museum trustees are currently working with district councillors and local businesses to promote the whole Gainsborough experience – including the museum, the landscape he painted and the silk industry – as a package to attract tourists to the area.

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