Shaun Gagg

Shaun was born 1969 and brought up in the mining village of Wombwell near Barnsley in Yorkshire. At school he always enjoyed art and was fascinated by Salvador Dali’s work.

Being in possession of a long ladder and with no fear of heights he would spend much of his free time rock climbing and caving in the Peak District.

Shaun soon found himself replacing the odd roof tile and this progressed to him becoming a full time roofer and also introduced him to a magical substance called slate. There were often skips full of quite large pieces at the slate companies who supplied him with roofing tiles and the words “take as much as tha wants lad” were music to his ears. Later, this would progress to weekly trips to Wales where there are slate tips the size of mountains. This was more or less how Shaun’s life was for the next 15 years or so with him creating just the odd sculpture now and again from either slate or perhaps a big lump of sandstone.

The style of these sculptures was described by people who saw them as: - “they’re very Barbara Hepworth aren't they”. At this point however, Shaun had never heard of her!

He eventually looked her up and discovered some of her work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, less than ten miles from where he lived. These visits to Y.S.P also introduced Shaun to the work of Henry Moore, and he found aspects of similarity to his own work.

But by far the most influential sculptor he discovered there was Andy Goldsworthy.

Andy’s balanced land art became an obsession of Shaun’s and you would often find him in the shallows of the nearby reservoirs of the Peak District, sat in the water balancing as many as 6 or 7 large rocks with just millimetres of contact points between each one.

12 years ago Shaun moved to the coast of Flamborough near Bridlington. Here he continued his land art where his playground was the beaches full of large cobbles.

He was often in the local paper or at least his art was!!

For quite a while the papers alluded to who was creating these sculptures?

“Mysterious Artist Strikes Again” was a common caption above a photograph of one of his sculptures.

Shaun also found a small workshop and decided to have a go at sculpting full time - making large abstract slate pieces. These sold very well and provided me him with an income for quite a few years.

Shaun jokes that if you were to ask his wife or any of his family to describe his work at this point; they would say “he has to go over the top and make everything twice as big as it needs to be”

This trait eventually became his downfall as his left leg eventually gave up due to the weight of the slate he had been lugging around. His leg had pins and a metal plate in it from an old climbing accident and by the end of a long day working on the slate he would be in agony and limping badly. He even wore a kind of external metal calliper type contraption that he had welded together, this went from under the heel of his boot and up to his knee and was strapped to his leg. This helped in two ways because besides taking the pressure off his ankle it also made him dig out my welder to make it.

Shaun then had a go at a bit of arty stuff and to his surprise it looked really good. He has never looked back and for the last five years he has made nothing but welded sculpture and whereas before the natural shape of the stone dictated the final form of the finished sculpture; with welding Shaun can let his imagination run wild and make practically anything.

Shaun still goes over the top and makes everything as big as possible though, because after all he’s a Yorkshireman and so value for money is everything even in art!!!