William A Sutton

Nor'wester in the cemetery

Nor'wester in the cemetery by William A Sutton

Artwork Detail

'I painted the things I liked and had no desire to create or recognise national totems. Literary people suggested that I was a painter of national characteristics. But if they recognised such in my work, then we appear to have met . . . and joined issue unknowingly'. Several of Bill Sutton's paintings from the late 1940s have become national icons, and seem to align with New Zealand writers' search for a cultural identity distinct from that of Britain. In 1973 P. Æ. Hutchings wrote: 'The strong, but rather cool expressionism of much contemporary realist work has its roots in this tense and complex picture. Sutton achieved in Nor'wester a fusion of emotion and form which is, and has been, exemplary.' During a long career as a teacher and painter, Sutton passed through a number of stylistic phases, but an enduring theme has been his intense observation of the Canterbury landscape. As he said of Nor'wester: 'The painting has a degree of "flatness" in it, because on a nor'west day everything is sharply defined into the extreme distance - no moisture content in the air. If you are not used to it it can be totally enervating'. This little wooden church summons up the spirit of a forgotten rural community, and as the relentless wind slices through the cemetery, you can almost hear the swish of grasses lapping around the tombstones and the whipping of macrocarpas on the fence-line. (from The Guide, 2001)

Nor'wester in the cemetery
William A Sutton
Production date
oil on canvas
1490 x 1800 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1954
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

To find out which artworks are available for print requests and reproduction please enquire here. This service only applies to select artworks in the Gallery's collection.