National treasure Sir David Attenborough today opened the first exhibition of J.M.W Turner’s original work to be displayed at the artist’s house in Twickenham.

Sir David praised “all the local people and historians who have given so much care, imagination and love to bring [the house] back into existence”.

It was restored and opened to the public in 2017 and has since won a number of awards, including from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Turner’s House Trust received a £5,000 Civic Pride Award from Richmond Council to help fund upgrades as well as a bursary from the Ferryman scheme to fund exhibitions.

Sir David called on local people to come along to the house, which he described as a “joy”.

He said: “I’ve lived for nearly 70 years just across the river, and of course I knew Turner was around here as it were, but never dreamt that there was a hidden gem like this. 

“The scholarship, the insight and the care of local people, who have actually rescued this and revealed it is really astonishing. So I offer my gratitude to all those people who have done that.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

A series of five paintings of depictions of scenes close to Turner’s house near the river are on loan from the Tate, and can be seen at the Sandycombe Lodge until March 29.

Curators hope this exhibition will be part of a series showing the relationship Turner had to the local area.

Mayor of Richmond, and former neighbour of Sir David, Nancy Baldwin, also attended the opening of the Turner and the Thames exhibit at the house today.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service she said: “We have Turner as one of our native sons in the borough and we have this wonderful exhibition.

“It is the most fabulous example of a community endeavour that you can possibly imagine.”

She said she was proud of the council’s support for art and heritage projects across the borough. 

She said: “Many of the events and things take place through the libraries and galleries. Many, if not all, of those things are free, and if they’re not free, they are at a vastly reduced price, under £5, so people on low incomes can take advantage of culture here in Richmond borough.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

“Richmond borough has the second highest usage of libraries in England and Wales. That’s a real testament to how the borough has been supporting the library service, through which a lot of these cultural events take place. 

“The council does everything it can do. Can it do more? Of course it can, every council can do more, but of course as with everything else there are constraints around money and we do the very best that we can, and I think quite successfully considering the constraints we are working under, just like every other council across the country.”

She added: “We’re so fortunate here that we’re almost spoilt for choice. And we forget sometimes as we’re getting annoyed by people clogging the streets and everything else, is that we are a tourist destination site.”