LGBT-inspired artwork installed at heart of GCHQ in honour of Alan Turing

Mr Turing cracked the Enigma code at GCHQ’s base during the Second World War

A giant artwork of Alan Turing has been installed at the heart of GCHQ as the wartime hero becomes the first LGBT person to feature on a UK banknote.

The first £50 notes depicting the famed mathematician, who is often considered to be the father of computer science, will be issued from Wednesday, June 23.

To mark the occasion, a 10m by 10m rainbow-coloured canvas inspired by the LGBT Pride flag has been unveiled at the centre of the GCHQ hub in Benhall, Gloucestershire – a building known as the Doughnut.

Mr Turing broke the Enigma code at GCHQ's wartime headquarters

Mr Turing broke the Enigma code at GCHQ’s wartime headquarters

Mr Turing played a pivotal role in breaking the Enigma code at Bletchley Park – GCHQ’s home during the Second World War.

The artwork, which lies flat facing the sky, was created by 3D artist Joe Hill in collaboration with GCHQ’s Pride network and features Mr Turing inside the wheels of the British Bombe – the machine he designed to crack the Enigma code.

The artwork also contains 15 hidden codes for viewers to decipher, and will later be donated to organisations chosen by GCHQ’s Pride Network.

The artwork features hidden codes for viewers to decipher

The artwork features hidden codes for viewers to decipher

“Alan Turing was a genius who helped to shorten the war and influence the technology that still shapes our lives today,” said GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming.

“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.

“Turing was and remains a beacon of hope for all who dare to live and think differently.”

Born on June 23 1912, Mr Turing studied mathematics at King’s College, University of Cambridge, gaining a first-class honours degree in 1934. He was elected a Fellow of the College.

In 1936 his work On Computable Numbers is seen as giving birth to the idea of how computers could operate.

A £50 banknote featuring Alan Turing is set for release on Wednesday

A £50 banknote featuring Alan Turing is set for release on Wednesday

His “Turing test” also examined the behaviour necessary for a machine to be considered intelligent – the foundation for artificial intelligence.

After his efforts during the Second World War – which are credited with saving millions of lives – Mr Turing was later convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man.

“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,” said Skylar, whose second name cannot be revealed for security reasons, the head of GCHQ’s Pride Network.

“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.”

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23rd Jun 2021
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Brilliant man Alan Turing and its high time he was recognised

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