Stone walls are the real rock classics for Tony

THERE can't be many rock stars who have gone from playing stadia and presenting Top of the Pops to building dry-stone walls, but for singer-turned-artist Tony Wright, this rather traditional technique is just another string to his creative bow.

During the '90s, he was one of British music's most popular personalities, tearing up the charts as the frontman of Bradford band Terrorvision and generally living life in the fast lane.

But after the group decided to call it a day in 2001, he swapped the rock'n' roll limelight for the tranquil beauty of Yorkshire's moors, where he now creates paintings, prints and, somewhat unusually, dry-stone wall sculptures.

"Dry-stone walls are fantastic," says Wright. "We take them for granted because they're everywhere, but they're probably the greatest work of art that Yorkshire has.

"About seven years ago, I looked out of my window at the walls that people had built over 100 years ago, that have shaped our landscape, and I wanted to be able to say that one of those lines was mine."

Duly inspired, the 41-year-old set out from his cottage high on the moors near Keighley, and got some lessons in walling from the son of a local farmer. Ever since, he has been busy reinventing the ancient technique as a new and intriguing form of sculpture.

His speciality is in constructing miniature pieces, which have been showcased at the Heart Gallery, in Hebden Bridge, and sold to buyers as far away as Japan and Australia. At the other end of the scale he also creates tall piles of balanced stones on remote parts of the moor: grand,

eye-catching structures that spring up in the most unexpected of places, surprising ramblers as they negotiate the rugged terrain.

"I don't tell people where they are, so it's a kind of secret. It makes me chuckle to think of people stumbling across them and wondering what they're doing there."

As well as his work with dry-stone structures, Wright paints pictures of the local scenery and does a great deal of printing with wood carvings and ink, working from a room inside an old mill using equipment including an antique Arab press, built in Halifax in 1895.

The peaceful, rural aspect of Wright's art is a world away from pounding drums and blaring guitars. It certainly seems quite a contrast from the fast-living lifestyle he enjoyed with Terrorvision.

For almost a decade, the band were at the forefront of popular British music, releasing a number of successful albums and amassing more than a dozen Top 40 hits between 1993 and 2001 – the most successful being Tequila, which reached number two in 1999.

It was a time of wild antics that saw Wright party with Robbie Williams in Amsterdam and, in one bizarre incident in Sweden, accidentally rip half the fibreglass off the front of a private jet. He also became something of a TV personality through guest appearances on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Top of the Pops, but he insists he never wanted to be a "celebrity".

"At the time, I was getting offers from MTV to be a presenter, but I just wanted to play music," he explains.

"That time with Terrorvision was fantastic – what I can remember of it anyway – but it wasn't about the parties and being famous. It was about being free to do what I wanted to do, which is exactly the way

it is now.

"Ten years ago, I was singing about Tequila, and now I'm doing art out on the moors.

"I've played venues with tens of thousands of people, black walls and massive speakers, and now I'm outside where there's no people, lots of brilliant colour and hardly any noise.

"I like both. It's the ying to the yang."

As a schoolboy in Bradford, he loved drawing, and his father ran a gallery in the city showcasing work by local talent. On leaving school, Wright wanted to pursue a career in design until a teacher told him to be more realistic. He toyed with engineering before getting himself a YTS place at a printing firm.

It was here that his love of music took centre stage. The band he had been in since his mid-teens picked up more gigs, the industrial noises of his workplace provided the rhythms he needed to come up with new lyrics, and before long Wright had a record deal.

Music still plays an important part in his life in any case. His new band Laika Dog play gigs at local venues and around the UK, while Terrorvision are reuniting for some live shows later this year with Wright at the helm.

But for the most part it's the beauty of the Yorkshire scenery that occupies his time. "I'm inspired by the landscape," he says. "It gets me really excited and there's something particularly beautiful about the countryside here. It's a work of art in itself."

TERRORVISION PERSONALITY

Terrorvision were formed in 1987 in Keighley.

The re-release of their second single, My House in December 1993 proved to be the band's breakthrough to UK singles chart success.

All their singles achieved Top 40 entries in the UK culminating in the release of Tequila, which reached number two in 1999.

Frontman Tony Wright presented Top of the Pops on one occasion, and made several appearances on the comedy music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Since splitting in 2001, the group has since reformed to play two tours in 2005, and played what was described as their "last EVER show" at Rock In The Castle in Scarborough, Yorkshire.

They didn't quite mean it and after various other gigs they are scheduled to play at Stormin' the Castle in County Durham next month.

Tony Wright's art can be viewed at www.myspace/ drystonewalls.

Anyone interested in purchasing or commissioning pieces can contact him by email on tony@laikadog.co.uk