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Inspired to collect: The Alisa and Isaac M. Sutton Collection

Joanne Yeomans
17 October 2013
This Saturday a new exhibition opens at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art dedicated to the collection of American collector Isaac M. Sutton. Joanne Yeomans asked him about his passion for botanical art.

Isaac M Sutton

In our new exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art - Botanicals: Environmental Expressions in Art, the Alisa and Isaac M. Sutton Collection - we will be displaying over 50 paintings from the American collector Isaac Sutton’s collection which have never been on show in the UK before.

Sutton’s collection has previously been exhibited at the Hunt Institute and the Pittsburgh and New York Botanic Gardens, and features many well-known contemporary botanical artists including Beverly Allen, Rachel Pedder-Smith, Celia Rosser, Carol Woodin and Leslie Berge.

To introduce the exhibition and his collection we asked Isaac M. Sutton some questions about his motivations for collecting:


Botanical Art collector Isaac M. Sutton

Can you tell us a bit about your collection? How many paintings do you have?

"I started collecting botanical art in 1998 after viewing Dr. Shirley Sherwood's ground breaking first exhibition in New York. I was captivated by the beauty of the paintings and decided that I would like to own and hang similar paintings in my homes. To me collecting is not only about the depth and breadth of a collection in a certain genre of paintings, it is also and mainly about displaying and living with beauty, using the paintings as part of decor. The collection began modestly and after a while I began to gravitate to larger pieces of art. Certain artists became favourites. As the collection matured I began to seek out paintings that were different, either in subject and/or style. At present there are more than 250 botanical art paintings in the collection with additions being made yearly, albeit at a slower pace than before." 


The paintings have arrived and been unpacked in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery

What first encouraged you to start collecting botanical art?

"Dr. Shirley Sherwood's pioneering work in the revival of contemporary botanical art was the main impetus for me to start collecting in this field. Dr. Sherwood made it easy - the artists and organisations that are involved in this field were clearly listed in the back of her catalogues. For a first-time collector her catalogues also served as vouchsafe for any purchase of an artist within them. I always thank Dr. Sherwood for bringing beauty to the forefront of the art world and encouraging all of us to pursue this field." 


More of the paintings that will be on display in the exhibition 

How do you go about choosing art for your collection?

"First and foremost I must like the painting. I next inspect the technical aspects of the painting. Lastly I analyze the composition of the piece. If one of the last two criteria makes an impression on me it is then that I consider adding a piece to my collection." 


The Sutton Dogwood  by Katie Lee will be on display 

Why did you want your collection to be exhibited at Kew?

"In travelling this exhibit I wanted to share with the art and botanical world some true masterworks of the botanical art genre. To that end Kew and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art are a must destination. Great Britain, and Kew specifically, are the capital or headquarters of botanical art. I also wanted the British public to view this collection, a public that appreciates and is a leading advocate of this genre."

Meet Isaac Sutton

Isaac M. Sutton will be giving a tour of this new exhibition on 23 October 2013 at 2pm. This event is free but booking is required. Please contact the gallery on 0208 332 3622 to book a place.

Botanicals: Environmental Expressions in Art, the Alisa and Isaac M. Sutton Collection will be on display in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art until 19 January 2014. This exhibition will be shown alongside Black and White, in Colour until 5 January 2014 and Rory McEwen’s Legacy - Artists influenced by him in the Shirley Sherwood Collection until 14 January 2014.

- Joanne - 


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