Roger Marriott describes himself as a retired jack of all trades, but he is certainly a master of his art.

Marriott's Marvellous Machines is the June exhibition at Red Door Gallery in Putiki, a perfect fit for his style of art.

Roger's work consists of a collection of amazing "vehicles" constructed from all manner of op shop and flea market purchases.

"It's a representation of technology from 1830 to 1930 — you've got a bit of oil, a bit of gas, electricity, steam ... a bit of radio," says Roger, who is an admirer of old traction engines.


"It's amazing what people do with just ... junk," says Peter Shepherd, who owns Red Door Gallery with his wife, Debby.

"We all look at things differently," says Roger, a fan of Peter's work, which is also made from odds and ends.

"That's an old telephone cord, and that's a wind-up magneto out of an old crank telephone," he says, itemising the ingredients in his successful recipe for art with wide appeal.

Each "marvellous machine" has a story and a list of component parts, many of which would surprise the viewer.

"It all started with my two young grandkids for Vintage Weekend. They wanted to get dressed up in Steampunk, so I went to the Coin Shop for a couple of top hats, and then got a couple of clocks and bits and pieces and stuck them all over the hats."

He says a couple of little waistcoats completed the ensemble. "And it kind of developed from there. That was about four years ago."

Until then Roger, 70, worked at light furniture restoration. "I've never done anything like this before in my life."

Putting the "newness" of Roger's art into perspective, Peter says, "It may be something new, but he's drawing on a lifetime of skill."


Roger's "machines" consist of a base or body with extra bits and pieces to give them the appearance of working machinery. Sometimes the base is a piece of wood — made from fence battens cut and stained — or, in a couple of cases, the body of an old sewing machine, or something that provides a solid foundation for the structure. One is the body of an early 20th century sewing machine, made miniature for travel. It had a small hand crank rather than a treadle.

Other components include old oil lamps, brass vases, radio valves, Meccano pieces, radio parts, cutlery, dismantled egg beaters, bits of an old soldering iron, coffee plungers, chains, clocks, egg cups, door handle strike plates, bicycle gears ... everything trimmed, broken or cut to size to represent machinery, wheels or vehicle bodies.

Somehow Roger is able to look at his raw material and see a destination for it in a work of art, as long as it fits his chosen era.

"I admire the craftsmanship of the day, what they had, what they made, it's incredible. Even the tools were hand-made."

Roger himself is a fashion icon, owning a collection of suits, hats and shoes from bygone times — and he wears them. Some call him the Art Deco Man.

Red Door Gallery is open from Thursday to Sunday, 10.30am to 4.30pm. Marriott's Marvellous Machines exhibition is on show during June.