Bill Sutton (artist)

William Alexander Sutton CBE (1 March 1917 – 23 January 2000) was a New Zealand portrait- and landscape-artist. A graduate of the Canterbury College School of Art (now the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts) he returned there to teach for more than 30 years.[2]

Bill Sutton
a bronze bust
Bronze bust of Bill Sutton as part of the Twelve Local Heroes sculpture
William Alexander Sutton

1 March 1917[1]
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died23 January 2000(2000-01-23) (aged 82)

He was tutored by many well-known Canterbury artists, including Colin Lovell-Smith, Evelyn Page and Archibald Nicoll and gained his Diploma of Fine Arts in 1937. In 1947 he travelled to London where he studied for a time at the Anglo-French centre in St John's Wood. On returning to New Zealand in 1949 he took up a teaching position at Canterbury University College School of Art and was appointed senior lecturer in 1959. During the 1940s and 1950s Sutton followed in the tradition of fellow Canterbury artists, such as Rita Angus, Colin and Rata Lovell-Smith and Louise Henderson, developing a distinctive interpretation of the Canterbury landscape. Sutton continued to teach at the school until his retirement in 1979. Sutton continued to paint until 1993.

His paintings are typically signed / credited as WA Sutton. Much of his work shows the influence of New Zealand regionalism as with fellow Cantabrian Rita Angus.[3] In 1963, Sutton built a house in Templar Street in the Christchurch suburb of Richmond. Until his retirement in 1992, he painted most of his works there. The house was bought by a former curator of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery and it was his intention to gift it as a home for an artist in residence scheme. Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the house is located in the Residential Red Zone and was thus purchased by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority; it is hoped for the house to be kept despite the red zoning.[4] A retrospective of his work was held at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū in 2003[5]

In March 2009, Bill Sutton was commemorated as one of the Twelve Local Heroes, and a bronze bust of him was unveiled outside the Christchurch Arts Centre.

Notable people paintedEdit


  1. ^ "Death Search". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 23 July 2012 Enter "2000/2876" as the registration number
  2. ^ [1] Archived 23 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ [2] Archived 23 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Gates, Charlie (18 November 2014). "Plan to save Bill Sutton's former home". The Press. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  5. ^ "W.A. Sutton: A Retrospective". Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Portrait of John by W.A. Sutton, commissioned by Victoria University to mark the award to him of the Order of Merit". NZETC. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  7. ^ "College of Arts - School of Humanities and Creative Arts - University of Canterbury - New Zealand". 20 February 2015. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2015.