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 new home.
The Friends have continued to meet regularly during the 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.