11 Oct 2018

The former home of artist Bill Sutton will soon belong to the people of Christchurch.

The Christchurch City Council has voted to accept the transfer of the Richmond property from the Crown. Built in 1963, the Templar Street property includes Sutton’s studio.

Councillor Yani Johanson, who used to be the local city Councillor for the area and who chaired the Council’s former Community, Recreation and Culture Committee that sought the retention of the house since late 2012, has welcomed the move.

“It has been a long-standing request from the Council to Central Government to retain this special place as an iconic residential address in our city,” says Cr Johanson, a member of the Social, Community Development and Housing Committee.

“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.”

Artist Bill Sutton's house and studio will be given to the city.

Artist Bill Sutton's house and studio will be given to the city.

A conservation covenant protects the property despite the red-zone setting.

The property will be given to the Council for a “nominal consideration of $1”.

However, there are several conditions attached to the Council decision.

First, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) will be responsible for facilitating and funding the property’s refurbishment. LINZ, acting as Crown agent, proposes to lease the property to The Sutton Heritage House and Garden Trust.

The trust would manage the property at 20 Templar Street as a gallery and museum, taking responsibility for operational and maintenance costs for a minimum of five years.

Councillors want seven nearby properties used to support the trust’s work. They have asked for those properties to be transferred to the Council as soon as possible.

Celebrated for striking regionalism art pieces, Sutton painted most of his works at the property until his 1992 retirement.

Art curator Neil Roberts bought the house following Sutton’s death in 2000 and was instrumental in securing the conservation covenant over the property. The site was then acquired by the Crown after being red-zoned because of the 2010-11 earthquakes.

Following refurbishment, the Sutton property will be added to the city’s heritage portfolio.