William Alexander “Bill” Sutton graduated from the Canterbury College School of Art in 1937, after which he served overseas in World War Two. After being decommissioned, he returned to his art studies at the Anglo-French Art Centre in London.
However, Sutton’s roots were in New Zealand, and specifically in Canterbury, the landscape of which would become the subject of his work and the focus of his committed regionalist approach. Along with fellow Cantabrians Doris Lusk, Toss Woolaston and Colin McCahon, amongst others, Sutton was a part of The Group, showing work in many of their annual exhibitions.
Sutton also returned to his alma mater as an educator, teaching at the Canterbury College School of Art for four decades. Sutton’s best known works are perhaps his paintings Dry September (1949) and Nor’wester in the Cemetery (1950), iconic images that perfectly encapsulate the New Zealand regionalist ethos: hearfelt evocations of place, centred on the landscape. In 1980, Sutton was made a Companion of the British Empire for services to art.