THOUGHTS ON THE CLOSURE OF THE PICTON
GALLERY by DENYS SHORT
In many parts of the world
Foundations have been set up to celebrate men and women who have
enriched a district with their vision and enthusiasm. These have
become centres of pilgrimage, research, inspiration and have
engendered local pride and profit.
In 1976 it happened that at least two such centres were set up
for eminent European artists. One was in Aix en Provence for the
painter Vasarely and the other was here in Pembrokeshire at
Picton Castle for Graham Sutherland.
Sutherland revelled in the Pembrokeshire landscape which had so
strongly influenced him since his first visit in 1934.
Sutherland painted a number of large paintings especially for
the new gallery, in recognition of the debt he felt to the
county which had inspired so many of his finest works.
In 1984 the Friends of the Graham Sutherland Gallery was formed
with Jonathan Cramp as the first Chairman. It ran a programme of
well attended monthly lectures and other events, but it found a
new and challenging role when it was announced in 1995 that the
gallery at Picton was to close. If a new home could not be found
the collection would have to go into storage.
The county was searched for a new site with Sutherland
connections. Letters went to people who might be able to support
the cause , including the Prince of Wales and Nicholas Serota of
the Tate Gallery. There were radio broadcasts and Jon Snow sent
a team to record an interview for Channel 4 News, but for all
the encouragement we received the collection failed to find a
The Friends have continued to meet regularly during the thirteen
years since the closure of the Picton Gallery, with its main aim
now of keeping the Sutherland “legacy” alive.
Had it not been for this vigilance it is possible that there
would not now be a centre in St Davids with galleries equipped
to display art works of the highest quality, including works
from the Sutherland collection.
Why not go to the Vasarely web site to see how the centre in Aix
developed and compare!