Vote now if you want to see Sudbury’s Thomas Gainsborough on the new £20 note

Could Thomas Gainsborough be the next face of the £20 note?

Could Thomas Gainsborough be the next face of the £20 note? - Credit: Archant

The face of famous Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough could feature on the new £20 note – if campaigners in his home town get their wish.

Gainsborough's House director Mark Bills

Gainsborough's House director Mark Bills - Credit: Archant

Last month, the Bank of England put out a call for members of the public to suggest who they would like to see on the next banknote, which will celebrate Britain’s achievements in the visual arts.

People in Sudbury, where Gainsborough was born, think he would be the ideal choice, and staff at Gainsborough’s House museum and gallery have started a campaign to encourage fans of the great master to nominate him.

The national Banknote Character Advisory Committee hopes to be able to consider a wide range of potential characters and the final decision will be based on the strength of the contribution of the nominees to the arts, rather than the number of votes.

Gainsborough will be up against stiff competition from a varied and colourful cast of characters from the art world including fashion designer Alexander McQueen, children’s author Beatrix Potter and artist L.S. Lowry, who have also been nominated. But Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, believes there would be no better choice than Sudbury’s most famous son.

Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough


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He said: “Gainsborough epitomises the great British artist. He celebrated Britain in his art to a level that none of his contemporaries ever did.

“He influenced so many people and is a truly international artist with a great personality – just the kind of person who you’d be proud to see on a bank note.

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“People in Sudbury and Suffolk as a whole would be thrilled if a local boy could be picked for this honour. Imagine being able to pay for things all over the UK in Gainsboroughs!”

The museum has started a Twitter campaign #goingforgainsborough encouraging people to nominate Gainsborough via the Bank of England’s specially designated webpage http://ow.ly/Nbaz0 before the closing date on July 19. Mr Bills added: “Raising the profile of this significant artist would certainly boost tourism and put Sudbury on the map.”

Gainsborough’s House has also just been awarded a £9,000 grant to enable it to take its education programmes out to hundreds of schoolchildren across the county.

A national education charity, the Ernest Cook Trust, has made the award, which will contribute towards the museum’s arts education project – Creative Spaces in Nature: A Pop-Up Studio.

Local primary schoolchildren will design and create panels for a mobile studio that can be taken out to gardens and festivals as part of a schools outreach programme this summer.

Mr Bills said the project would promote learning outside the classroom and encourage children to enjoy and appreciate the natural environment, drawing on the inspiration of the Suffolk countryside that so inspired Gainsborough.

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