Stuart Sutcliffe 1940-1962
Stuart Sutcliffe was a student at our College of Art and typified the college's liberal approach to study by insisting on working in his basement studio and receiving tutorials there from tutor Arthur Ballard.
It was during his time at the college when he formed the group which eventually became The Beatles with friend and fellow student John Lennon. He was the original bass guitarist in 'The Silver Beetles' before leaving to concentrate on his painting. The band became legendary, but Sutcliffe died just eight months before the group had their first hit. He remained a shadow in The Beatles meteoric rise to global fame, but in 1967, Lennon paid tribute to his former musical partner by immortalising Sutcliffe on the cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“I looked up to Stu. I depended on him to tell me the truth. Stu would tell me if something was good and I would believe him.”
– John Lennon
Although he died tragically young, Sutcliffe had already established himself as one of the country's most exciting young painters. He left behind a 600-piece body of work - an extensive portfolio by any standards - and was recognised as one of the pioneers in the new concept of pop art. He was both a highly regarded painter and a precocious stylist with his 'James Dean' image, quite radical in the traditional duffle-coated art school circles.
LJMU held a retrospective of his Hamburg paintings in 1994, the most prolific and creative phase of his work.