William Sutton

New Zealander, b.1917, d.2000

Private Lodgings

About the artist

Sutton, William Alexander (New Zealander, b.1917, d.2000)

Prominent Christchurch painter Bill Sutton was an influential teacher from 1949 to 1979 at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. Sutton has chosen here a restricted palette – ochre, brown and black – to portray this aged wooden façade under streetlight glare, with a reflected neon glow of red.

The Manchester Private Hotel, already rundown when Sutton painted it in 1954, was a somewhat disreputable boarding house on the corner of Manchester and Southwark Streets on the outskirts of central Christchurch. Belonging to a series of paintings that Sutton made depicting old, inner city buildings, it conveys the imprint of memory and the local past.

(Above ground, 2015)

earlier labels about this work
  • Known as the Manchester Private Hotel, this was a private boarding house on the corner of Manchester Street and Southwark Street. During the early 1950s William Sutton worked on a number of paintings of building façades in Christchurch’s inner city. Rather than accurately representing the building, Sutton was interested in the abstract patterns caused by the shapes of its features and the effects of the street lighting. Private Lodgings was the first Sutton painting to be acquired for the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, the then public art gallery of Christchurch. Born in Christchurch, Sutton studied at the Canterbury College School of Art. He was tutored by many well-known Christchurch artists, including Colin Lovell-Smith (1894 -1960), Archibald Nicoll (1886 -1953) and Cecil Kelly (1878 -1954). Sutton began exhibiting with the contemporary art artists, The Group, in 1946. He travelled to Britain in 1947 but returned to New Zealand in 1949 to take up a teaching position at the School of Art, which he held until 1979. Sutton was awarded a CBE in 1980.

Related

Notes
Private lodgings by W.A. Sutton

Private lodgings by W.A. Sutton

Private Lodgings is a portrait of a lost Christchurch building that dates most probably from the 1860s.

When Bill Sutton painted it in 1954, it was an increasingly decrepit boarding house, on the corner of Manchester and Southwark streets, just out of the central city - opposite the much more famous Coker's Hotel.

Commentary
Above Ground

Above Ground

I go into the Gallery. Haven’t been there in a while. Building closed. It was open to begin with. Civil Defence HQ in the weeks following the shock that laid the city low and who knew glass could be so strong, so resilient? Then the Gallery closed. It was cordoned off, behind wire netting. Something was going on in there. Someone said something had cracked in the basement. Someone said they needed to insert a layer of bouncy forgiving rubber beneath glass and concrete, ready for any future slapdown.

Commentary
City of Shadows and Stories

City of Shadows and Stories

If cities are the ground into which we plant stories, the soil of Ōtautahi – later Christchurch – is undergoing a protracted tilling season. Five years is a long unsettlement in human terms; on a geological (or indeed narratological) scale, time moves more gradually. Christchurch exists today as a rich aggregation of narratives, propping up physical edifices of crumbling stone and cardboard.

Exhibition
Above Ground

Above Ground

An exhibition exploring the impact of architecture, imagination and memory.

Article
Shifting Lines

Shifting Lines

It's where we live: the encrusted surface of a molten planet, rotating on its own axis, circling round the star that gives our daylight. Geographically, it's a mapped-out city at the edge of a plain, bordered by sea and rising, broken geological features. Zooming in further, it's a neighbourhood, a street, a shelter – all things existing at first as outlines, drawings, plans. And it's a body: portable abode of mind, spirit, psyche (however we choose to view these things); the breathing physical location of unique identity and passage.

Article
De-Building

De-Building

For many passers-by, Christchurch art Gallery is identified by its dramatic glass façade—the public face it presents to the world. but De-Building is an exhibition that offers a very different view. bringing together the work of fourteen artists from new Zealand and farther afield, this group exhibition draws inspiration from the working spaces gallery-goers seldom see: the workshops, loading bays and back corridors; the scruffy, half-defined zones.