Naked truth of Over Kellet

A self-portrait of Roy Clapp
A self-portrait of Roy Clapp
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The peace and quiet of Over Kellet was once laid bare.

Thirty years ago, controversy raged when two marble carvings appeared in the narrow front garden of a house on the edge of the village green.

Placed prominently on either side of the front door, the carvings depicted the sculptor Roy Clapp and his wife Jill – and both were nude!

Sections of the local community were outraged and after representations by the local vicar, the carvings were eventually removed – but not before the matter had hit the national press. The People newspaper ran an extensive piece, complete with photographs.

That erstwhile incident was probably the 
only time the name, Roy Clapp, reached beyond the village.

For although Roy produced many carvings and hundreds of drawings and paintings before his death in 2009 at the age of 80, he hardly ever parted with them.

Knowledge of his artistic talent therefore remained confined mainly to the residents of Over Kellet and to visitors to the village who were intrigued by the growing number of carvings in front of his house – plus an ever-changing display of drawings and paintings in the windows.

Roy and Jill, with their four young children, had 
arrived in Over Kellet in 1961.

At that time Roy was a lecturer with the Extramural Department of Liverpool University, organising and teaching art courses in the North West.

But in the early Seventies, he took early retirement to devote himself exclusively to his beloved art.

Once retired, he and Jill kept themselves more or less to themselves. They were to a large extent self-sufficient, rearing goats, sheep and pigs on the land behind their house.

With wool from the sheep, Jill carded, spun and wove, and made many of the clothes they wore. Much of their other food they grew or gathered.

So it has come as a bit of a surprise to everyone that, after all this time, Jill has decided to present the work of her late husband to a wider public, and to say something about Roy’s early years and their life together in Over Kellet.

Her handsome, full-colour hardback book, The Life and Art of Roy Clapp: A Reminiscence, published this month, is a fitting tribute to a man who never sought the wide recognition that his extraordinary artistic talents truly deserved.

*Jill’s book is available from the Carnforth Bookshop or post-free from Marius Press (01524 733027; email Signed copies can be bought from Jill at Halls Cottage in Over Kellet.