Sutton Heritage House and Garden,
20 Templar Street, Richmond.
Open 2–4.30pm, Sunday 7 March 2021.
Entry is by koha.
Artist Bill Sutton’s house opens to the public
The home of Bill Sutton, one of Canterbury’s best known painters, will open to the public for the first time on Sunday 7 March. A decade on from the Christchurch earthquakes, and 21 years after Sutton’s death, the Sutton Heritage House and Garden will be offered as an artist’s residence and studio in conjunction with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū and the Ilam School of Fine Arts. When not in use by visiting artists, it will be available for visits by the public, community talks, seminars, workshops and art exhibitions.
The opening of the Sutton Heritage House and Garden is the realisation of the vision of former owner, Neil Roberts, who purchased the house following the artist’s death to ensure its preservation and with the intention of gifting it to the city for use as an artist’s residency. Following the 2011 earthquakes, Roberts’ plan was frustrated by the red-zoning of the section of Richmond where the house is located at 20 Templar Street. Roberts had no choice but to sell the property to the Crown but, following several years of uncertainty, and aided by the powerful advocacy of Dame Ann Hercus, an agreement was reached to retain the house and garden and designate the adjacent land as Sutton Park.
The Sutton Heritage House and Garden Charitable Trust was formed in 2018 to administer the house; ownership of the house and associated land was transferred to Christchurch City Council in 2020. Having suffered minor earthquake damage, the house has been fully restored with only minor adaptations required to allow for public use.
Sutton’s house and studio was designed for the artist by his friend and colleague at the School of Fine Arts, Tom Taylor. Completed in 1963, it is a notable example of mid 20th-century modern design and a rare example of a house designed to meet an artist’s specific requirements. It includes a large, north-facing studio where Sutton painted many of the works for which he is so well known. The rambling garden reflects Sutton’s philosophy of ‘nature knows best’.
Members of the public are invited to view the house and garden on Sunday 7 March, 2–4.30pm, following an opening ceremony by Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Entry is by koha. Because of the small size of the house and garden, numbers will be restricted to a maximum of 40 persons within the house at any one time.
Sutton Heritage House and Garden, 20 Templar Street, Richmond. Open 2–4.30pm, Sunday 7 March 2021.