W.A. Sutton: A Retrospective

10 May – 28 September 2003

William A. Sutton (1917–2000) was known as 'Bill' to his many friends, students and admirers. He was a 'Canterbury' man – born in Christchurch and, except for some brief periods away, lived here all his life. Bill Sutton found the landscape of the region endlessly fascinating and it provided a lifetime's source of subject matter.

William A. Sutton (1917–2000) was known as 'Bill' to his many friends, students and admirers. He was a 'Canterbury' man – born in Christchurch and, except for some brief periods away, lived here all his life. Bill Sutton found the landscape of the region endlessly fascinating and it provided a lifetime's source of subject matter.

In this major retrospective of Sutton's work, it is possible to see his exploration of the Canterbury landscape and his drive to understand its nature, its forms and its relationship with the ‘big' Canterbury sky and the area's turbulent Fohn wind, the Nor'wester. In the greys and blues and browns that we have come to see as the quintessential Canterbury colours, Sutton's landscapes have helped to define the way we see the region.

Included in the exhibition are a number of works from Sutton's Plantation series. Completed in the latter part of his career, these are some of his most powerful paintings. Always a strong social commentator, Sutton disapproved of the large pine plantations that have been established in Canterbury. He said they had spread 'like a disease' and he wanted his paintings to show how they were like 'scabs' on the landscape.

Sutton was, however, a man of many talents. This retrospective also introduces us to his many fine portraits, shows us what a skilled watercolourist he was and reveals his talents as a silversmith, calligrapher and designer.

The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see so much of the work of this highly respected Canterbury artist.

Presented with support from Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery; Spicers Portfolio Management Ltd.

'Talking to Bill', a video to accompany the exhibition made by Christchurch film maker Liz Grant, will be screened at scheduled times in the Philip Carter Family Auditorium, ground floor.

Read our Senior Curator's recent article on this show which was featured in b.132, our autumn 2003 issue of the Gallery's quarterly publication Bulletin.