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New art gallery opens at Thomas Gainsborough School

PUBLISHED: 23:20 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 23:20 11 March 2017

Alexia Gortsilas, Emily Gillbanks and Cameron Walter. Picture: CHRIS RYALL

Alexia Gortsilas, Emily Gillbanks and Cameron Walter. Picture: CHRIS RYALL

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The very name of their school harks back to one of the country’s most famous artists – and now students at Thomas Gainsborough School can see what it is like to have their own artwork displayed.

Katie Mills, Mason Boggis and Solo Nichol. Picture: CHRIS RYALLKatie Mills, Mason Boggis and Solo Nichol. Picture: CHRIS RYALL

The Great Cornard School has opened a new gallery space to showcase work from students and artists from the community.

Named the Molfrey French-Owen art exhibition studio after a loyal supporter and school governor, the gallery means students’ work can go on show “in a hugely professional way”.

Headteacher Wayne Lloyd 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 expectational space right in the heart of the school.”

Opening the new art gallery: Sue Ayres, Molfrey French-Owen and Pam White. Picture: CHRIS RYALLOpening the new art gallery: Sue Ayres, Molfrey French-Owen and Pam White. Picture: CHRIS RYALL

Mr Lloyd said the decision to name the gallery after Molfrey French-Owen was in recognition of her 20 years’ tireless dedication to the school and her “passion for the creativity of young people in our community”.

Ms French-Owen said: “It is a huge honour and I am really impressed by the exhibition space. I started supporting the school after my son, Ianto, 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 and 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, said: “The students now have an area where they can see their art work has been prioritised in a hugely professional and impacting way.”

The plan is to have exhibitions with other artists in community and the school is already working with Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, as well as art students at other Samuel Ward Academy Trust schools across Suffolk.

The studio replaces a former reading room, which the school says was “under-used”. It was officially opened on March 8.

Pam White, chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for creative students and I am sure they will benefit.”

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