Focus on sculptor for BBC Radio Four show

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Fashion designer and sculptor Nicole Farhi featured on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs after the unveiling of a portrait bust of Thomas Gainsborough which is on display at a Sudbury museum.

Claiming creating the bust for permanent display at the Gainsborough House museum was the best thing she has ever done, Farhi was Kirsty Young’s castaway for the programme which takes a look at her background.

Born to a Turkish family in France, Farhi first started designing clothes for her paper dolls as a child, before attending couture fashion shows in Paris with her aunts.

The programme talks of how she began selling her early design sketches for pocket money, before 18-year-old Farhi enrolled in a Paris fashion school and began her career as a freelance designer.

Detailing the highs and lows of her career from the early 1970s when she met British entrepreneur Stephen Marks as he started the retail chain French Connection, and became chief designer.

To setting up her own label and fashion empire from 1982, before leaving the business in 2012.

Her retirement has seen Farhi dedicate her time to another passion, sculpture. Working mostly with clay, she later casts her works in different materials including glass, bronze and concrete.

One of her best known works was unveiled at Gainsborough House and where staff welcomed the artist’s friend, American Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, to view the bronze bust of the famous artist.

Mrs Wintour donated £6,500 to the museum and gallery to pay for the piece and was joined by French fashion designer and sculptor Mrs Farhi

Currently awaiting the approval of a £4.7million lottery funding application, there are ambitious plans in the pipeline for Gainsborough House, which include transforming the former labour exchange building next door into a three storey exhibition centre.

This could lead to it attracting significant loan pieces from national galleries.