Bill Sutton

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1917, d.2000

Read more about this artist on Wikipedia

Private Lodgings

About the artist

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

Bill Sutton’s Private Lodgings captures a sense of the history of a notorious Ōtautahi Christchurch boarding house, the Manchester Private Hotel. This hundred-room, three-storeyed timber boarding house on the corner of Manchester and Southwark Streets had fallen into disrepair. The hotel’s address appears frequently in newspaper reports, starting with repeated requests for replacement porters and kitchen staff. Next to these were frequent court reports documenting varied misdemeanours, its occupants including bankrupts, petty criminals, arsonists, thieves, trespassers, vagrants and one murderer. Further reports spoke of damage from frequent room fires as well as unchecked borer, dry rot and rats, and the late discovery that it operated without a license, leading ultimately to its demolition in 1963.

(From Here on the Ground, 18 May – 17 November 2024)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Above Ground, 18 December 2015 – 12 February 2017

    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.

  • 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.