John Roy

John Roy is a ceramicist whose practice is centered on iconic forms and the social memory built around them. His works owe a debt to the surrealists, in particular, the work of René Magritte. When viewing Roy’s work it’s hard not to recall the quintessential Magritte image of an anonymous man in a bowler hat and overcoat set against a blue sky, face obfuscated by objects such as an apple or a dove, or replaced by a void or more blue sky. An additional nod to Magritte includes the use of a recurrent cast of characters and objects: the boy/man, the banker, the clown, Uncle Sam, the turtle, rabbits, birds, rats, cockroaches, bricks and diamonds. Roy loves puns—this linguistic device is often present in his work and their titles. Yet the symbolically charged scenarios or propositions in his works are seldom, if ever, basic or superficial. Though his work has strong social, political and aesthetic intentions, he introduces ideas and thoughts in a way that makes room for the viewer to bring their own ideas and thoughts to the work in order to relate what they see to their own personal experiences. At the heart of his practice, Roy points to a psychological interrogation of the self. His works are funny and affecting because they cut deep.


John Roy (b. 1970, Christchurch, New Zealand) lives and works in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a well-respected mid-career artist who has exhibited extensively across New Zealand over the past two decades. He was formally trained at Whanganui Polytechnic where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997 majoring in Ceramics. Since then he has continued to work in clay. He has works held in major public and private collections nationally. Exhibition highlights include: Glimmer a Tauranga Art Gallery exhibition which toured nationally from 2010-2012; Bending Hammers at Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui (2012); and his inclusion in The Rooms, The Elms/Tauranga Art Gallery (2018).