Joseph Rowntree is an urban artist seeped in the mood of rural New Zealand. He came to art from a decade of honest labour on antipodean farm land, shearing sheep and mending fences. This personal narrative informs the lens with which he creates. His work draws on history, exploring the ways in which the past projects on to the sociological landscapes of present and future. Through candid portraiture, sensitively portrayed, he picks apart his own colonial heritage and delves into the complexities of the Pākehā relationship with their adopted land. His is a body of work in evolution, chewing the cud of history and experience to produce refined, thoughtful pieces that build upon each other. He mines the depths of his psyche to hold an unflinching mirror to the community and society to which he wholeheartedly belongs.
Joseph is a careful and considered artist who bleeds meaning into his very materials. Recycled windows from colonial buildings are his canvas, dismantling the building blocks of the shadow white New Zealand has cast on borrowed land. His monochrome palette echoes the stark light and shade of his subject matter to dramatic effect.
Joseph creates a range of works across disciplines and environments from the studio to the street. He casts his net wide, inspiring dialogue between people from all walks of life, speaking to experience, memory and legacy, and stirring the human heart.