Flames in a Rock Form (I), 1976

This surrealist semi-abstract print, encompassing strange humanoid figures, was inspired by the Pembrokeshire coastline, however the main form resembles a menacing, organic structure, a motif that permeates Sutherland’s work in different variations. Click on Gallery image for details. 


Graham Sutherland

Graham Sutherland OM (1903–1980) was an English artist known for his works largely focused on landscape and religion. He is perhaps most famous for his ‘Christ in Glory’, the world’s largest tapestry in Coventry Cathedral. During his varied career Sutherland was also renowned for his friendship with Pablo Picasso and infamously painting Winston Churchill’s portrait, commissioned by Parliament. Sutherland first visited Pembrokeshire in 1934. He was deeply inspired by the Welsh countryside and he visited every year until the outbreak of the Second World War and his posting as an Official War Artist.

Born in London, Sutherland studied at Goldsmiths’ School of Art, London, where he established a reputation, even as a student, as a fine printmaker. He taught at the Chelsea School of Art for much of his early career, until the outbreak of war in 1939. After his seminal wartime work, painting almost apocalyptic scenes of London’s East End, Sutherland began his successful forex into portraiture, and became an evermore prolific printmaker. Having converted to Catholicism in 1926, Sutherland’s later work became increasingly focussed on religion.

Today, Sutherland’s work is held in numerous major public collections including the National Museum Wales, Manchester Art Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

This lithograph range comes from the years following Sutherland’s return to Pembrokeshire in 1967. His return ignited Sutherland’s creative renewal and artistic homecoming to the place he himself believed he first began to ‘learn how to paint’. The country’s ‘exultant strangeness’ is further illustrated in ‘Flames in a Rock Form’ (1975-1976) which resemble the spectacular rock arches, and pillars that decorate the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Within the modern Oriel y Parc in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, a permanent exhibition of his work is rotated between there and National Museum Wales.