After he had been commissioned by Dean Walter Hussey to paint a Crucifixion for St Matthew's, Northampton, Sutherland began working on a series of paintings inspired by thorn bushes. These are similar to his earlier works where Sutherland exploits twisting tree roots and other organic forms to arrive at something that is far removed from a conventional image of Nature. Painted following his trip to Southern France, Sutherland has adopted a new, brighter palette to reflect the warmth of the Mediterranean climate. Sutherland wrote, "For the first time I started to notice thorn bushes, and the structure of thorns as they pierced the air. I made some drawings, and as I made them, a curious change developed. As the thorns rearranged themselves, they became, whilst still retaining their own pricking, space-encompassing life, something else - a kind of 'stand-in' for a Crucifixion and a crucified head… The thorns sprang from the idea of potential cruelty - to me they were the cruelty and I attempted to give the idea a double twist, as it were, by setting them in benign circumstances: blue skies, green grass, crucifixions under warmth."
Where to see this painting?
Pallant House Gallery
9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, England, PO19 1TJ
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.
More on this painting
bequeathed by Walter Hussey to Chichester District Council, 1985