Giant LGBT+ Inspired Artwork Unveiled to Celebrate Turing Legacy

The artwork also celebrates Alan Turing becoming the first gay man to appear on a UK banknote.

Today we (GCHQ) unveiled a giant LGBT+-inspired artwork of Alan Turing in the middle of our Cheltenham HQ, celebrating his legacy and becoming the first gay man to appear on a UK banknote.

Turing is the father of modern computing, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, and instrumental in breaking the German Naval Enigma cipher at Bletchley Park –our wartime home – during the Second World War.

Today during Pride Month and on what would have been his 109th birthday, he becomes the first member of the LGBT+ community to appear on a UK banknote.

Director GCHQ Sir Jeremy Fleming said: “Alan Turing was a genius who helped to shorten the war and influence the technology that still shapes our lives today. He was embraced for his brilliance but persecuted for being gay.

Turing’s legacy reminds us every day that diversity is essential and inclusion is mission critical to our organisation. His appearance on the £50 note is an important moment in ours and this country’s history. Turing was and remains a beacon of hope for all who dare to live and think differently.”

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The 10m x 10m artwork, created by specialist 3D artist Joe Hill in consultation with staff from our Pride network, features the iconic image of Turing inside ‘drums’ from the British Bombe, the machine designed by Turing to break Enigma-enciphered messages during the Second World War, saving millions of lives. The artwork, which also features hidden codes, will later be donated to a number of organisations chosen by our Pride network.

Skylar, Head of GCHQ’s Pride Network said:

Alan Turing is a role model for many here at GCHQ and a global icon as an LGBT+ person in the field of science and technology. Though we should never forget the tragedy of his life being cut short, we should always endeavour to learn from his legacy and create a safer and better future for LGBT+ people.

I am proud to see GCHQ recognising the importance Alan Turing has for LGBT+ people, owning its shared history with our community and doing so in such a public and bold way.

To watch a video of the artwork, click here