Philip Sutton RA

Philip Sutton RA

Colours Through Life

A major selling exhibition of paintings from a lifetime including new work and historic posters

Philip Sutton RA’s paintings can be seen below and may still be available. Any enquiries please email gallery@sladersyard.co.uk or telephone us on 01308 459511.

20 November 2021 until 15 January 2022

Please scroll down to see Philip Sutton’s posters.


Fully illustrated 40 page exhibition catalogue available for £10 plus £2 p&p (within UK) 

Philip Sutton’s exuberant paintings  express the poetry he sees all around him.  At the age of 93, he still paints and draws every day as he has throughout his life. His work is full of bright colour, painted with a freedom and clarity reminiscent of Matisse but entirely his own. His treatment of his varied subject matter is full of wonder, sometimes combined with humour. As The Times critic John Russell Taylor wrote, ‘All you need to understand and appreciate Philip Sutton is a lively eye and open mind. You do not have to make your way painfully towards him: his art will welcome you with open arms.’

Above: Paintings by Philip Sutton RA

Below: Philip Sutton RA Posters (in a separate online gallery)

Please click on an image for details and prices (from £25)

Born in Poole on 20th October 1928, the youngest of four boys, Philip Sutton left school at 14 and worked for three years in a drawing office, waiting for the lunch break so that he could borrow a drawing board and draw. After national service in the RAF, during the Berlin airlift, a grant allowed him to study at the Slade from 1948 – 53.  His contemporaries included Craigie Aitchison, Euan Uglow and Michael Andrews. Philip Sutton admired their work but was quite unlike any of them. He found his own style, struck by the mixture of playfulness and seriousness he found in a book about Henri Matisse, an artist largely ignored at the time. 

His tutor, William Coldstream, recognised him as ‘a gifted, intuitive painter’ and introduced him to the dealers Roland, Browse and Delbanco who sold his first painting to Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten. They continued to exhibit his work in Cork Street for the next twenty-eight years after his first show in 1956. That same year he was invited to become a member of the London Group. At the Slade he met Heather Cooke. They were married in June 1953 and departed immediately to travel and live in Europe for over a year after he graduated funded by three scholarships including the Prix de Rome. After painting all the daylight hours for six months in the South of France he joined Stanley William Hayter who ran the famous Atelier 17 printmaking studio where Sutton learned his unusual woodcutting techniques through observation and experiment. 

Back in London, he took a part-time job teaching etching and lithography at the Slade. Philip and Heather were rescued from living in one room in Kew, with their first son, by Peter Pears who offered them the use of the appropriately named Joy Cottage in Snape, Suffolk. They lived there for three and a half years and had two more children. Sutton developed his bright exuberant style through painting the Suffolk landscape while Heather made radio documentaries and a film. In 1958 they were able to buy a small house in Battersea where they had their fourth child, Rebekah. Sutton painted nudes almost continuously in this period with pale colours and delicate lines. They had many visitors.

Pop Art and the American Expressionists caused turmoil in the art world in 1963 and Philip and Heather Sutton and the four young children headed out of London, to Australia and a year in Fiji, funded by the sales of his paintings. While he was away he became established as one of the British painters who epitomised the exuberant sixties. He returned with a full exhibition of tropical paintings and a film Heather had made about him. Heather took an anthropology degree at London University. In 1969 they bought a house in Falmouth and began to spend part of every year there painting expansive landscapes often including the docklands.

In 1976 Hugh Casson invited Sutton to become an RA and his reputation began to move beyond the art market. This led to commissions including designing a tapestry for Shell, one of two made at West Dean College, a logo for 3i, the rose logo for the Labour party and wall tiles for the restaurant in a bank in Amsterdam. A BBC Arena documentary was made about him and in 1977 a Retrospective of his work was held at the Royal Academy. He also began to paint on ceramic pots. The owner of the famous Fulham Pottery commissioned him to make pots with Jean-Paul Landreau resulting in a successful Cork Street exhibition in 1987. 

He designed stamps for the Post Office, a poster for the London Underground and crockery for the Royal Academy restaurant. A poster and the flag for the RA Summer Exhibition led the film director Sam Wanamaker to ask Sutton to design a poster for his proposed reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. Sutton became inspired by Agincourt, travelling to northern France to imagine the conflict and painting fantastical pictures reminiscent of Uccello. From 1995-97 the painting of the series was filmed in a television documentary ending with the paintings in the foyer of the Globe.  

In 1988 Sutton gave up teaching at the Slade and later they moved to Manorbier in Wales where they lived until 2014, when they moved to Bridport. Heather very sadly died in 2017. Her funeral was held at Sladers Yard during Philip Sutton’s second exhibition here.

This is Philip Sutton RA’s third major solo show at Sladers Yard including over 50 paintings from throughout his lifetime right up to his most recent work. Original edition posters designed by and about Philip Sutton will also be available.

Philip Sutton RA

Please contact us on gallery@sladersyard.co.uk with any enquiries about Philip Sutton RA.

13 Responses to Philip Sutton RA

  1. Pingback: Best of the West – January 2022 – The Floating Circle

  2. Pingback: Philip Sutton RA new exhibition now available to view and buy online. | Sladers Yard

  3. Hello, as a former student of Philip’s at the Slade (1985-86) I do hope that you will record his talk and post it here. I wish I could be there, but I live and paint in Mexico and cannot make the trip. Thank you so much for honoring his work and accomplishments!

  4. Just reading the article about Philip Sutton in the June Artist magazine. Have admired his work for a long time, so googled him and was so happy to see he is exhibiting at the time I will be holidaying in Dorset. It will be lovely to see his paintings in the flesh

  5. Pingback: Philip Sutton RA Talk Friday 5 May 6.30pm | Sladers Yard

  6. Pingback: Philip Sutton RA opens 22 April | Sladers Yard

  7. Lindsay says:

    Hi, I came across a book of Philip’s work yesterday, on a flying visit to my local library- the work is ecstatic. My son who is studying A level art is thrilled too! We live some distance but will try and come to see the work.

  8. Christine Hughes says:

    Philip Sutton’s exhibition was wonderful. I loved the glowing colours and the drawing, and the woodcuts and ceramics. It was a joy to look at the world as he sees it. Thankyou, I hope you have another one in the not too distant future.

  9. Pingback: Philip Sutton RA 18 October – 30 November 2014 | Sladers Yard

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