An art gallery – named after a long-time supporter – has been opened in Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard.
The Molfrey French-Owen art exhibition studio will showcase both the work of students and inspiring artists from the community.
Wayne Lloyd, headteacher, said: “When we first decided to rename the school in honour of Thomas Gainsborough, we wanted to reflect our heritage and the whole community it serves.
“We wanted to place art right in the centre of everything we do. This exhibition gallery does this by showcasing the outstanding work of our young people in an exceptional space right in the heart of the school.”
The decision to name the gallery after Mrs French-Owen was in recognition of her 20 years of dedication to the school.
Ms French-Owen, a governor at the school, said: “It is a huge honour and I am really impressed by the exhibition space.
“I started supporting the school after my son attended the school 20 years ago and I have been involved ever since.”
The official opening saw students witness their paintings exhibited for the first time.
Sixth form student Alexia Gortsilas said: “It is amazing to have this area for students to have their work hung.
“It looks really professional and it is a wonderful place to showcase your work.”
Ed Clark, head of art at the school, added: “The students now have an area where they can see their art work has been prioritised in a hugely professional and impacting way.
“Our plan is to have other exhibitions from artists in the community, and we are already working with Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, as well as art students right across the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, of which we are part of.”
The studio, which replaces a former under-used reading room, was welcomed by dignitaries who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, including Great Cornard Parish Council chairman Pam White and Sudbury Mayor Sue Ayres.
Mrs Ayres, a retired teacher, said: “I will support anything that promotes art in the curriculum and it is encouraging to see what has been achieved at Thomas Gainsborough School.”