Born in Dorset in 1928, Phillip Sutton RA left school at 14 to work in a drawing office before fulfilling his national service amidst the Berlin airlift. Following this, Sutton studied under William Coldstream at The Slade School of Fine Art alongside Original Collection member Euan Uglow. While at The Slade, Sutton was awarded the Supper Composition Library and held an exhibition of paintings in the university library, where art critic John Russel Taylor first saw his work. Sutton was the recipient of scholarships that allowed him to paint in Spain, France and Italy. Sutton held his first solo exhibition at Roland, Browse and Delbanco in 1950. Sutton has since exhibited his work extensively around the world, including at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, Piano Nobile, London, David Jones Gallery, Sydney and Sladers Yard, Dorset. Throughout his career, Sutton has received multiple commissions, including a 1986 commission to create a London Transport Soho Poster and a 1987 commission to design a set of stamps for the Post Office. Following this, in 1988, Sutton was elected as a Royal Academician, designing a set of painted ceramics for the Royal Academy shop. Sutton’s self-portrait, Self (1962) was acquired by Ruth Borchard Collection in 2019. Most recently, Sutton established his own gallery, the Phillip Sutton Gallery in Bridport, Dorset in 2020.
Sutton’s bold and expressive paintings express the poetry he sees in the world around him, with many of his paintings titled with Shakespearean quotes. In his own words: ‘I’m trying to do something that I didn’t know was there till I’d seen it. When I see a cloud I try to do it as though I didn’t know what clouds are.’ His bold and warm colour palette is as expressive as it is full of wonder. As The Times critic John Russell Taylor wrote of Sutton: ‘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.’