Artists to support £8.7m Gainsborough’s House project with two fundraisers

Gainsboroughs House Museum plans the recreation of 18th century studio like T Gainsborough would have used.

FL; Director Mark Bills with Pitminster Boy which shows a lad with G's palette and brushes.
Gainsboroughs House Museum plans the recreation of 18th century studio like T Gainsborough would have used. FL; Director Mark Bills with Pitminster Boy which shows a lad with G's palette and brushes.

Prominent British artists have backed an ongoing £8.7 million fundraising effort to create a national Thomas Gainsborough centre in Sudbury, with two big art events next month.

Gainsborough’s House is organising an autumn art fair and a contemporary and post war British art auction as part of its wider campaign to secure more than £3 million, which it needs to renovate the existing Grade I-listed house and establish a new arts venue.

The ambitious project, which includes plans for a new three-storey structure with four galleries, has received a pledge of £4.73 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is waiting to hear the results of two more major grant applications.

Mark Bills, Gainsborough’s House director, said he was delighted with the progress of the fundraising so far, but added that there was “still no certainty” the project would be delivered without continued support from the community.

“Where we have got to is really quite extraordinary,” he told the Free Press. “We are raising money for something very special here.

“A lot of people have given towards this project and I always say every little helps. However, we are not being complacent, and we know we now need people’s support.”

The autumn art fair, which runs from October 14 to 20 and is free to enter, will see more than 100 original paintings and prints on sale to the general public.

Meanwhile, the auction, which starts at 6.30pm on October 20, will feature about 140 lots donated by the estates and studios of top British artists, like Michael Ayrton, Edward Bawden, Antony Gormley, Maggi Hambling, John Hoyland, David Inshaw, Allen Jones, Sarah Lucas, Sargy Mann, Julian Opie and William Pye.

Mr Bills said that if the auction proves to be a success, it would be a big step towards achieving their fundraising targets.

To find out more about the events, go to www.gainsborough.org