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Graham Sutherland
(1903 — 1980)

Graham Sutherland was a British artist, most noted for his fabric design and paintings. Born in Streatham in 1903, Sutherland initially began his working life as an apprentice railway engineer in Derby before enrolling at Goldsmiths College of Art in 1921. Sutherland initially specialised in engraving, producing prints with a variety of subjects in his early career. His primary interest in pastoral landscapes soon developed in a more abstracted style, though he continued to study natural forms in his engraving work. During the 1930s, whilst teaching at the Chelsea School of Art, Sutherland began to work in other media, most notably exploring glass and fabric design alongside his continued interest in printmaking and illustration. In 1936, Sutherland participated in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London, though his focus on abstracting natural forms would be halted by the Second World War. Sutherland was employed as an official War Artist between the years of 1940 – 1945, primarily working on the Home Front and in occupied France. The images produced during this time were varied, displaying the effects of the War with sensitivity and great skill. The artist continued to experiment after the War, though his artistic output would exhibit darker, harsher and often more religious elements.


In the early 1950s Sutherland received a commission to design a tapestry for the new Coventry Cathedral, a project that would take a decade to complete. The resulting piece was named Christ in Glory, a monumental tapestry, believed to be among the largest in the world, hung behind the starkly simplistic altar of the modernist cathedral. Though Sutherland was often able to blend his love of natural forms with his popular religious subjects, the later stages of his career were marked by an emphasis on landscapes. Sutherland was awarded the Order of Merit in 1960. Much of his work in the early 1960s was influenced by the landscape surrounding his house in the South of France and later, the Welsh region of Pembrokeshire would provide Sutherland with a great source of inspiration, the artist incorporating the changing seas and lush green land throughout his work in the 1970s. The artist died in London in 1980. His work remains in the collection of the Tate and the National Museum Wales, and can be seen to this day in Coventry Cathedral.