In the Sains­bury Cen­tre’s 40th year, David Sains­bury talks about his fam­ily’s ex­tra­or­di­nary gift

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

Lord Sains­bury on his par­ent’s gift: the Sains­bury Cen­tre

What was it like grow­ing up with such an amaz­ing col­lec­tion of art­works around you ev­ery day?

It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. Grow­ing up in a house full of mar­vel­lous works of art is the best pos­si­ble way to ap­pre­ci­ate them and learn about them. The ex­tra­or­di­nary thing look­ing back is that I didn’t think it was any­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Why was Nor­wich the choice for such an im­por­tant col­lec­tion?

The fam­ily busi­ness had strong con­nec­tions with East Anglia and my youngest sis­ter was an un­der­grad­u­ate at UEA. Also, an Amer­i­can friend of my fa­ther in­tro­duced him to Frank Thistleth­waite, the vicechan­cel­lor of the Uni­ver­sity, who was very en­thu­si­as­tic about the col­lec­tion.

Nor­man Foster was a rel­a­tive un­known at the time he de­signed the Sains­bury Cen­tre – how did he come to be cho­sen for the com­mis­sion?

My fa­ther could have cho­sen a fa­mous ar­chi­tect but typ­i­cally he qui­etly went and looked at the work of a num­ber of ar­chi­tects, and de­cided that Nor­man Foster was the most ex­cit­ing one though he was largely un­known at the time. It turned out, of course, to be an in­spired judge­ment.

How much in­volve­ment do you have with the Sains­bury Cen­tre on a reg­u­lar ba­sis? Do you get much chance to visit?

Not as much as I would like. Be­cause my char­i­ta­ble trust sup­ports a large num­ber of projects my time tends to be fo­cused on new ones and those that are not work­ing as well as

they should, rather than those which give me most plea­sure.

As a phi­lan­thropist and for­mer Labour min­is­ter, do you feel the state should play a big­ger role in sup­port­ing the arts?

The arts is one of the few ar­eas where I think the bal­ance of pub­lic and pri­vate money is about right.

Are you pleased with the way the Sains­bury Cen­tre has evolved over its four decades?

I think the cen­tre is do­ing a bril­liant job show­ing my par­ents’ col­lec­tion and putting on out­stand­ing ex­hi­bi­tions which re­late to it.

Where do you see the Sains­bury Cen­tre in 40 years’ time?

This is one of the few ar­eas in pub­lic life where I don’t want to see sig­nif­i­cant changes. The cen­tre was set up to dis­play my par­ents’ time­less col­lec­tion of world art ob­jects, and I don’t see any great rea­sons for change. N scva.ac.uk

ABOVE: David Sains­bury, Baron Sains­bury of Turville LEFT:Lord Foster at The Sains­bury Cen­tre, for the open­ing of his new ex­hi­bi­tion in the Nor­man Foster Stu­dio, with the gallery’s re­cently ac­quired bust of Lord Foster by sculp­tor John Davies FAR RIGHT:Lady Sains­bury amd Sir David At­ten­bor­ough at the open­ing of the ce­ram­ics ex­hi­bi­tion at the Sains­bury Cen­tre in Nor­wich

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