For over fifty years James Furneaux has been recording aspects of our city often from the most unlikely angles with both bold and sensitive draftsmanship and use of colour, transforming the ordinary into the beautiful. Looking over rooftops, up alleyways and into back gardens, James Furneaux’s gift to us is to make us see our city through fresh eyes.
‘My fathers work will be well known to many people living in Aberdeen. He has a distinctive style which has slowly evolved over the years. If I had to sum it up; there is a poetry in his work, its not just a view of Aberdeen but, an atmosphere, a mood created. Buildings and places take on a presence, a stillness often inhabited only by seagulls or pigeons. He cannot deny his love for this city of Aberdeen, it comes across in his work.
The view chosen will never be the pretty postcard one but an unusual angle, an unexpected combination of things. Particularly in many of these screen prints there is a system imposed by the medium. Drawings and watercolours always drawn on sight are separated out into many layers for the process of hand screen printing. Bold compositions arrived at through the uncompromising use of pen and ink (using an old style dip pen ) give a beautiful organic line which breaths its own life into these works. I use the word composition intentionally.
Observing the screen prints the viewer can see how beautifully they are put together. One is seduced by the great subtleties of ochres, soft greys and beautiful pinks often contrasted with rich purple blues and perhaps a rusty orange or vivid green just catching the eye, giving pause, as you slowly move around these pictures. I say pictures, as they are picture making. There is that magic where we are presented with these unique views of Aberdeen but at the same time there is an abstract sensibility in the way these are put together; each part, each section a part of the whole. I can never walk around Aberdeen without seeing a Jimmy Furneaux. Through my Fathers poetic sensibility, buildings from Union street (the Main Street ) rise up and speak to me with a new authority. Likewise gazing across a humble back garden, the view from a lane or over rooftops my Father captures small havens and preserves unusual gems, in this ever changing world.
Those people who are lucky enough to already own one of my Fathers watercolours or prints will have lived with a little piece of Aberdeen seen through the eyes of a poet. These works have an enduring quality that will outlive all of us.’
Paul Furneaux Oct 2012