Artist Bill Sutton was born in 1917 in Sydenham, Christchurch.
Bill Sutton is one of the Twelve Local Heroes - a set of twelve bronze busts of important local figures.
Bill Sutton’s plaque reads:
"Artist, painter and craftsman, student and teacher (1934-41, 1946-79) at Canterbury College and University, pre-eminent painter of Canterbury landscapes and people"
Sutton first attended art classes while still at high school, and later attended Canterbury College School of Art, graduating in 1937. After war service he studied at the Anglo-French Art Centre in London. He then travelled and saw the work of the European masters as well as documenting his journey with paintings.
Paintings of Christchurch and Canterbury
On his return to Canterbury he began to paint the Canterbury landscape using both representational and abstract methods. He was part of The Group, who exhibited contemporary art works from 1927 onwards.
Well-known works include Nor’wester in the cemetery (1950), Dry September (1949), Te Tihi o Kahukura and Sky (1977), and the Land Synthesis (1980), Land and Sky (1984) and the Plantation (1986-88) series.
Works on display
In 2010 the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu presented an exhibition of Sutton’s watercolour paintings created during a 1973 trip to Italy. You can view several more of his works online on the Art Gallery’s website. His portraits include HM Queen Elizabeth II (1975) and former mayor of Christchurch, Sir Hamish Hay (1987).
Career and honours
Bill Sutton taught at the School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University for 40 years. He was granted a lifetime membership to many art societies around New Zealand and was made a Companion of the British Empire in 1980 for his services to art. He died 23 January 2000 in Christchurch.
- Unger, Pat, Bill’s story : a portrait of W. A. Sutton Christchurch, Canterbury University Press, 2008.
- The book Twelve local heroes : a celebration : set of bronze busts commissioned by the Local Heroes Trust, Mark Whyte, sculptor details the evolution of the Canterbury Heroes busts.
- Information about Bill Sutton from the Twelve Local Heroes trail at the University of Canterbury
- Find works by and about Bill Sutton in the library catalogue
- W.A. Sutton exhibitions on the Christchurch Art Gallery’s website
- W.A. Sutton : retrospective exhibition 1917-1971 download the digitised catalogue from the Christchurch Art Gallery
- View Sutton’s work in the Christchurch Art Gallery collection
- The Group — digitised art exhibition catalogues