Roy Walker made a huge contribution to the arts in Cornwall and St Ives in particular, where he achieved an impressive reputation as an artist, etcher, printmaker and teacher. He also helped produce prints for many of Cornwall’s leading artists, including John Wells and Bryan Pearce. Roy was a flamboyant character with a warm, generous nature. He spent virtually every day of his adult life painting and refused to be confined by ordinary artistic restraints, he was constantly searching for alternative ways to express himself and continually experimented with many different mediums and styles. His love of form, colour and light are recurring themes and his early life and work experiences can clearly be seen in the shapes that constantly appear throughout his work. His later work began to exceed the confines of his studio as he worked on a larger and larger scale.
Born in 1936 in Welling, Kent, Roy studied art at the Gravesend School of Art and the Regent Street Polytechnic, he also attended evening classes at the Bournemouth College of Art, and later, after National Service in the RAF, at the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London. During the 1960’s he worked on the assembly lines at Ford’s in Dagenham, which heavily influenced his ‘mechanical iconography’ of later years.
Arriving in St. Ives,Cornwall with his family in 1965 Roy’s artistic career began in earnest. He was allocated one of the prestigious Porthmeor Studios in 1971 and eventually occupied No 3 studio from 1982 until his death in 2001.
His memberships were several: Penwith Society of Arts, Newlyn Society of Artists, Plymouth Society of Artists and the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers & Engravers. He served as Chairman of the Penwith Society of Arts and became Director of the Penwith Print Workshop, where he developed new printing techniques, including the use of steel etching plates. He was a founder member of the Porthmeor Printmakers. He also received a major award from the South West Arts and was the subject of a BBC Peninsula documentary.
Teaching was also a passion, and Roy taught many of the new generation of contemporary artists. He lectured at the Plymouth College of Art, the Falmouth College of Art, Camborne College, the Royal Cornwall Museum and held classes at the St. Ives School of Painting as well as the Porthmeor Printmakers. He was Artist in Residence at Withywood School in Bristol and ran a St Ives based workshop for Franklin Art College of Switzerland;
During his lifetime Roy had numerous solo and joint exhibitions throughout the UK, Europe and America, he has had work displayed at many of the premier galleries including the Tate St Ives. Samples of his work are held in numerous private and public collections including the V&A, the British Arts Council and Durham University.