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Griff Rhys Jones backs Sudbury museum's ambitious expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 11:57 27 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:57 27 April 2016

Griff Rhys-Jones

Griff Rhys-Jones

Archant

Writer and presenter Griff Rhys Jones has joined a string of celebrities who are backing multi-million pound plans to transform a Suffolk art gallery into a major national tourist attraction.

Gainsborough's House.Gainsborough's House.

The ambitious scheme at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury would see the neighbouring former labour exchange building turned into a huge three-storey exhibition space that would treble the size of the current gallery.

Although an initial application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for up to £5million to finance the project has just been rejected, Gainsborough’s House director Mark Bills said the museum’s trustees were strengthening their bid with a view to resubmitting an application in June.

“We didn’t get the funding we applied for this time around but we are hugely encouraged by what we were told by the Heritage Lottery Fund and we will be resubmitting our application on June 16,” Mr Bills said.

“They said they thought it (the project) was a high priority for the region, and that it was a clear and concise vision which had very strong outcomes.

“The reason we were unsuccessful was lack of funds in this round as it was the end of the financial year.

“However, they said they welcomed and expected another application from us.”

Mr Bills said trustees were keen to get more letters of support and pledges to help them submit an application the Heritage Lottery Fund “can’t say no to”. Gainsborough’s House already has support from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, artist Grayson Perry, TV personality Loyd Grossman, French fashion designer and sculptor Nicole Farhi, historian Simon Schama and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Griff Rhys Jones is the latest to add his weight to the cause.

Mr Bills added: “Griff has lived in Suffolk and has been involved with the River Stour (Trust) for many years. He wants to become part of the campaign and intends to do a show in Sudbury at the Quay Theatre to raise funds and awareness of what we are trying to achieve at Gainsborough’s House.

“He also hopes to organise an auction in London. It’s wonderful that so many people believe in our vision for Gainsborough’s House.”

The new gallery would enable the museum to show large scale and internationally significant works of art.

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