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Suffolk gallery trip is a ‘real treat’, says CIOB CEO

The original Georgian facade of Gainsborough’s House (Image: Elliot Brown)

CIOB’s Caroline Gumble visited the restoration works at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, where a new wing is being added which is set to make it the largest gallery in the county.

CIOB members Paul O’Connell MCIOB and Steve Wood FCIOB, of Thomas Sinden, hosted a behind-the-scenes tour for CIOB chief executive Caroline Gumble of the restoration works at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Suffolk.

Gainsborough’s House is the birthplace of 18th century painter Thomas Gainsborough and has been operating as a museum since 1961. Restoration work began in 2019 to turn the Grade I-listed Georgian townhouse into a national centre for art.

The historic buildings will be refurbished and redisplayed with a new three-storey wing constructed that will create the largest gallery in Suffolk. The doors will open to the public this spring.

Gumble said the day was “a real treat”, calling the hand-made reticulated brickwork facades, made by local company Bulmer Brick and Tile, “extraordinary craftsmanship”.

A new roof has been constructed for the gallery using hand-crafted copper – and will include a camera obscura. Internally the new gallery will form two main spaces for public exhibitions. One, the Gainsborough Gallery, will have silk wall linings manufactured by Humphries Weaving, another local company.

The main construction challenges were limited access and storage, and restricted room to manoeuvre, as the site is close to houses and businesses. The logistics required very careful planning and a lot of work to liaise with local residents and businesses.

During her visit Gumble presented awards to site supervisor Frank Maloney and site manager Glen Neal for the best site audit scores across Thomas Sinden sites for 2021.

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