New Christchurch Art Gallery director Blair Jackson is delighted that the home and studio of the late Bill Sutton is to be restored and gifted to the city
Christchurch Art Gallery director Blair Jackson’s favourite building
“I pass the Sutton House each day on my walk to work. I’d known about Bill’s house for a long time. I’d often heard people talk about it, and I knew about its history – I’d met Bill quite a few times and I worked with Neil Roberts, the owner of the house after Bill. But it wasn’t until early 2016 that I first saw the building when my wife, Kim, and I were house-hunting in the neighbourhood.
The modest yet beautifully designed house sits in a fantastic rambling garden and looks out to the surrounding Port Hills. The house now stands alone; the last remaining property in this part of the residential red zone. It’s nice to think of Bill working there, painting images of the hills he so loved. However, what really draws me to this place is that it was designed in 1961 by Bill’s friend
Tom Taylor, who was also an artist. Tom was one of my lecturers at the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts. He scared the shit out of me in my first year. He might have been one of the reasons I went into the painting department rather than studying sculpture. I did take sculpture as a minor subject, though, and spent a day a week over the course of my degree working with Tom.
I grew to like him a lot and, looking back, he might have taught me a thing or two. I’m pleased that Bill’s house is going to be saved and given to the city, and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen. It’s an exceptional building in a unique location. Looking at the house’s lovely details, I hear Tom’s voice saying, ‘form follows function’. What’s important now is that its future function suits its perfect form.”