The very first public exhibition to showcase the transformational £8.5m redevelopment of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury will be held on Wednesday 3rd May 2017 between 3.30pm and 7.30pm at St Peter’s Church, Market Hill, Sudbury CO10 2EH.
The “Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace” project seeks to attract visitors not only from East Anglia and London, but from across England and abroad. Nowhere else in the world will such a wide collection of Gainsborough’s art, and works by those he inspired, be seen in a single setting.
The project will see the renovation and redisplay of the historic house to interpret, entertain and inspire about the artist, his family and social context. A new, landmark three-storey structure will replace an empty local authority building on a brownfield site next to the house. It will provide spaces for exhibitions, displays and education with four new galleries – a showcase Gainsborough gallery, a landscape studio with panoramic views over Sudbury, a community gallery and a temporary exhibition gallery/performance space.
The project has received high profile attention including from Anna Wintour and Griff Rhys Jones and was commended by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, in her speech on Heritage Lottery Fund earmarking to Parliament in October 2016. It has currently secured £6.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donors. A shortfall of £2 million needs to be secured within the next year to keep the project on target. If Gainsborough’s House can secure these funds, building work will begin in autumn 2018 and will open to the public in 2021.
The public exhibition on 3rd May will be the first chance for the local community to meet the recently-announced architects for the project, ZMMA.
ZMMA’s work has included transformational projects at the Watts Gallery, Heath Robinson Museum and the European Galleries of the V&A, which won the Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2016.
The appointment of the architect went to competition and had over 92 expressions of interests, 29 applications and six tenders. Four architects were interviewed by the panel, which included two external judges. Architects were marked on vision and budget and it was decided that ZMMA were the best fit for the project.
ZMMA’s compelling ideas for Gainsborough’s House’s new building was an important factor in their appointment. A vital element within the design is how the building will connect with the Sudbury site. Drawing its inspiration from the town’s roofscapes, the design echoes the surrounding architecture, creating a contemporary building in sympathy with the town and the surrounding conservation area. This approach also translates to the materials that have been selected for the new build, and which will include bricks from the historic Bulmer brickworks, just outside Sudbury, and the internationally famous Sudbury silk for the interiors.
ZMMA noted: ‘At inception we will carry out a thoughtful, analytical study of the town and the important, historic townscape context it provides for Gainsborough’s House… Our constructional approach, using less concrete, provides a lower embodied energy and carbon footprint. In all our design decisions about materials we will consider the sustainability impact in terms of sourcing and long-term life expectancy, maintenance and end-of-life recycling. Locally sourcing Bulmer Brick, flint, clay roof tiles and silk wall linings will greatly reduce delivery miles.’
The exhibition on 3rd May will be the first chance for the public to see initial visuals and a to-scale architect’s model, to handle the locally sourced raw brick, flint and silk materials to be used in the build and to see a materials miles map.
It will also be the first and welcomed chance for the public to share their thoughts, comments and ideas on the project. At the exhibition, the public will also be able to gain a better understanding of the many and varied opportunities that this redevelopment will offer Sudbury and the surrounding area, for example in education, apprenticeships and the community gallery.
Key members of the Gainsborough’s House team, including Director Mark Bills and Project Assistant Jackie Brown will be on hand though the course of the exhibition to answer questions.
Mark Bills Director of Gainsborough’s House said:
We are thrilled with the appointment of ZMMA as architects for our transformational project. With a leading reputation and their great sympathy for Sudbury and the surrounding area, they are perfectly placed to deliver a world-class building that will enhance the historic town. We belief that Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace will make a really positive impact on the town and we will be working to attract as many visitors as possible, which in turn will lead to job creation and increased spend into the local economy. Thanks to the enormous support of so many, Gainsborough’s House has now reached an important and pivotal point within its history, where there is a real opportunity to create a national centre for Gainsborough in Sudbury. It will only happen if we can find the match funding and we still have a large gap to fill to create our vision and need support now more than ever.