Jilly Sutton trained as a sculptor at Exeter College of Art. Her career developed in Nigeria, where the art forms that flourish there (particularly carvings and textiles) fired her imagination. She researched and worked with indigo dye both in Africa and back home in England. Now, her inspiration comes from the ancient trees and woodland that surround her studio and the home she shares with her architect husband on the banks of the River Dart in Devon.
Using locally fallen or felled timber, Sutton carves large heads and figures, sandblasting and liming to give them their unique, grainy character. Although her work is mainly figurative, often with an overriding sense of serenity, abstraction also features in her oeuvre.
In her own words: “The warmth of wood, the quality of the grain, and the life embodied in each and every tree, together with a veneration of the head as a sculptural form … this is my passion. However, working with the vagaries of the organic, still living, nature of the material, and pushing the boundaries of its plasticity, is the constant challenge.”
Jilly Sutton’s sculptures have been exhibited internationally and are in public and private collections in the UK and abroad. Her carved wooden portrait of the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion is in the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.