20 Apr 2018

The former Christchurch home and studio of Bill Sutton, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated modern artists, will be gifted to the city.

The house in Templar Street, Richmond, was built in 1963 and was where Sutton painted almost all of his works until his retirement in 1992.

Regenerate Christchurch Chair Sue Sheldon (left), Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Dr Megan Woods, and Mayor Lianne Dalziel in front of the former house and studio of Bill Sutton.

When Sutton died in 2002, Neil Roberts, a former senior curator at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, bought the house. Mr Roberts had plans to leave the house to the city so it could be used for an artists-in-residence scheme, but he ended up selling it to the Crown when the property was red-zoned after the earthquakes

Today Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Dr Megan Woods announced the Crown and Christchurch City Council have worked to save the property, which will be gifted to the city.

“We want to save and restore this unique residence and garden, created by Bill Sutton, for future generations to be able to visit for its very special cultural and heritage significance. Bill Sutton was one of the most influential artists in New Zealand history and created most of his works in his studio at Templar Street.

“The house, the studio and the garden will be gifted to the City of Christchurch this year and will be leased to an appropriate governance entity,’’ says Dr Woods.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel is delighted the Crown agreed to the Council’s requests to have the house and studio preserved.

“It’s a fantastic outcome and ensures that future generations of artists will be able to visit the studio where Sutton worked and created some of his most well-known art works,’’ the Mayor says.

“It is a win for heritage in our city and it’s a win for our arts community.’’

Councillor Yani Johanson who used to be the Councillor for the Richmond area and who chaired the Council committee that first sought retention of the house in late 2012, also welcomed the move.

“It has been a long standing request from Council to Central Government to retain this special place as an iconic residential address in our city. It makes perfect sense to help activate the current and future use of the red zone by extending its life.

“It’s great to be able to secure the future of such a culturally important property and to know that Bill Sutton’s legacy will live on in Richmond,’’ Cr Johanson says.

The Minister also announced today that temporary projects in Christchurch’s residential red zone will be able to run for longer as the Government has extended the time-frame for transitional projects from two to five years.

“Transitional projects like the Te Ara Otakaro trail or the Avon Ōtākaro Forest Park are great ways of adding life to the red zone and making good use of that land while its permanent future is decided.

“We want to support local people to come up with innovative ideas for using that space, be it school or public events or community gardens or temporary displays,'' Dr Woods says.

"This is about backing local people to have great ideas for that area and giving them up to five years to develop them, allowing them the space and time to make those ideas a reality. Deciding and delivering on the long term use of the red zone will be a generation long task. This is a 30 year project. In the meantime, we have an area nearly four times the size of Hagley Park available for the city to make use of.''