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A Harrogate bricklayer turns his hands to Yorkshire sculpture

14:57 15 November 2011

Johnny’s ‘organic free-form walls’ give an optical illusion of movement

Johnny’s ‘organic free-form walls’ give an optical illusion of movement

A Harrogate bricklayer-turned-sculptor has transformed the Yorkshire tradition of drystone walling into an exciting new art form.

A Harrogate bricklayer-turned-sculptor has transformed the Yorkshire tradition of drystone walling into an exciting new art form.

Johnny Clasper, a name not to be forgotten in a hurry, creates what he imaginatively describes as organic free-form walls to reinvent the way people design their gardens

The stonemason and professional member of the Yorkshire Drystone Walling Guild explained further: Nobody else in the country is using stone like me. My philosophy and work are grounded in the traditions and strong materials of Yorkshire and really celebrate the intrinsic beauty of stonework. Drystone walling doesnt use cement or any form of bonding material, so its a craft that requires a lot of patience and skill to create that perfect combination of weight versus gravity.

I want to break the rules and create something thats very much homage to that tradition and skill, but with an edge. This is radical design that blends with nature.

After leaving Harrogate College with a qualification in bricklaying, he worked in the construction business building houses. That was a great grounding for me, said Johnny. The money was good, but I had a hankering to sculpt that I just couldnt shake. I wanted to test my own skills. And I wanted to work with natural curves that lend themselves to nature rather than square boxes.

Moving out of mainstream construction, he worked for a specialist stoneworker before deciding to set up on his own.

The art work I do is a compulsion really, he said. An idea becomes an almost constant thought, something that I need to do.

I have a great, all-encompassing passion for working with stone. Ive studied many styles of stone masonry and extracted bits and pieces of each. Ive then combined everything I know and put my own stamp on the work.

As a sculptor, I am inspired by nature and the fluid lines and shapes I see every day around me. I like to bend the rules as much as I can in my work.

I love doing what I do. I especially love the looks on peoples faces when they try to figure out how its all possible.

The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life

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