Trevor Sutton: Assembly and Image

Matthew Macaulay (Other)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition


The exhibition presented works from a period in the 1980s when his artistic practice was going through a transformation that led to the construction of a set of exciting, sharp and concise assemblages. It will be the first time that three of works in the exhibition have been shown publicly.The pieces in this exhibition were the first body of work by Sutton to use plywood, and the construction of these began in early 1981. That year one of the first of these paintings was exhibited in New Works of Contemporary Art and Music which was hosted at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. In October 1981, Trevor Sutton had an exhibition called Assembly & Image Paintings at the Lisson Gallery in London. A review in the December issue of Artscribe by Chris Titterington described the work at the Lisson as a change that would give the critic plenty to talk about.Sutton had previously in the 1970s made multi-panel pieces, often made up of separate square and triangle shaped canvases. At the beginning of the 1980s he wanted to make something that seemed sharper, quicker and more immediate, whilst also being intimate ‘as if someone was looking in the mirror’. Sutton began working in his studio in Wapping on some drawings and diagrams, and decided to create the artworks from plywood rather than canvas. He then sent his diagrams and drawings to the artist George Meyrick who cut the plywood into shapes for him. Sutton would paint each plywood piece separately, when it came to assembly he would reconfigure and play with the order of the pieces, rather than simply assembling the pieces as he intended in the pre-emptive working drawings.The resulting work was something that had precise shapes, unlike the folds he found in the multi-part canvas pieces he created in the late 1970s. Many of these paintings were made on a human scale, almost ‘head sized’, and had titles that suggested to the viewer a reading that was slightly figurative. In 2015 Peter Jenkins described new works by Sutton as a creative analysis of observed qualities rather than representation, these works from the early 1980s could be seen to work in a similar way. Observation is an integral part of the creative process for Sutton, he makes notes and drawings of aspects he observes in the world, these are then synthesized into something new through an organic structure of improvisation.Trevor Sutton studied at Hornsey College of Art from 1967 until 71 where he met and was taught by the prominent abstract artist Gwyther Irwin. Sutton went on to complete a post-diploma in 1972 at Birmingham Polytechnic under the supervision of William Gear in the studios at Margaret St. After his studies, he left Birmingham and moved to London.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2017
EventTrevor Sutton Assembly and Image - Class Room, Coventry, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Mar 20176 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

This was an exhibition hosted in a venue in Coventry, I interviewed the artist as part of my research and devised an exhibition. This exhibition highlighted a part of his practice that is not documented.


  • painting
  • 1980s
  • Trevor Sutton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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