Hideo Furuta designed the Clyde Marina Sculpture Garden. He was present when the Garden was formally opened by North Ayrshire Council Provost, Drew Duncan on 16 September 2003. The sculpture, which includes twenty-three spheres made of Caithness granite, is called Position and Appearance. Hideo Furuta died on 5 November 2007. The following obituary appeared in The Herald newspaper on 17 January 2008.
Hideo Furuta Artist and Sculptor
Publication Date: 17 January 2008 Byline: Neil Cooper Publication: The Herald
This obituary is reproduced with the permission of The Herald, Glasgow. © 2008 Herald & Times Group
HIDEO Furuta, who has died aged 57, was a Japanese sculptor who settled in Creetown in Galloway, where the plethora of white granite in the quarries he lived beside gave him raw materials to create his huge but whisperingly delicate works.
The townsfolk adopted him as one of their own and his sudden death means no longer will they be able to hang bags of food outside the run-down shack he and his partner, Hiroko, called home or else rush up to him with bags of lettuces when he left the quarry to venture into town. Such was Furuta's openness to people, however, which mirrored his artistic practice, it's unlikely he'll be forgotten, not least for his design for a new village square he created in 2005. His nomadic spirit was as near as it would ever be to settled in Creetown.
It was just one of many large-scale sculptures Furuta made on Scottish soil, since moving here after becoming Edinburgh University artist-in-residence in 1989. He had constructions at Pollock Halls of Residence and an exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery, as well as in Gullane and Dumfries, and was known for his precision and the lengthy amount of time he would devote to each work.
Furuta was born four years after the end of the Second World War in Hiroshima, still scarred from its devastation by the atomic bomb, and which had just passed the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law and selected a design for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Furuta would use similarly vast outdoor spaces both as workshop and canvas. He studied art in Tokyo before spending a year as a stonemason. It was then that he first worked with granite. He came to Britain in 1985, working in Wales and elsewhere. His work was typified by large spherical objects, which appeared as ancient as Stonehenge, but as modern as what is today patronised as "public art".
Furuta's art aspired to a musical state of grace and he played drums, their percussive rhythms providing therapy of sorts for hands damaged by the constant repetitive movements required when using a chisel. His forensic interest in the serialist invention of Stockhausen was reflected in many of the titles of his works - Breathing, Unity, Quiescence - and resembled those of more contemplative but exploratory ambient composers, who left space to breathe in their music as Furuta did with his work.
Indeed, while in Edinburgh, Furuta studied contemporary music. He organised seminars with students to explore the relationships between music, science and visual art, while he called recordings of his own compositions "sculptures to be listened to".
A half-hour documentary produced by Border TV in 1997 followed Furuta's working methods with a hypnotic inquiry, and was broadcast nationally the following year. By this time he'd taken up residence next to Kirkmabreck Quarry, owned by Tarmac. When eventually forced to move to another quarry in Carsluith, it was the people of Creetown who helped him. Furuta's relationship with his neighbours was one of community in the best possible sense of the word.
He had a huge capacity to make friends, and could connect with people in a way that was benign and intimate. As with his art, in life, he possessed huge humility and was devoid of arrogance. A series of drawings he called The Idiot were self-portraits which portrayed him struggling, not just with granite, but with the mess of mankind and Hiroshima.
Over the past few years, Furuta's work took a radical lurch sidewards from his spherical constructions, though mathematics remained at its heart. His final masterpiece, Spinning Cubes, was created for Birmingham's Afro-Caribbean Centre in 2006. Here, six cubes of African black granite were perched at angles in a presentation of total stillness and perfect balance set beside a world in motion that seemed to orbit around the work rather than the other way round. The sculpture was made with the assistance of Furuta's son, Suguru.
Hideo Furuta moved mountains both physically and spiritually, and turned them into the most precise and fragile poetry, which became monumental.