Skateboarding is an action packed sport that involves riding a special wooden deck fitted with wheels and performing tricks. Unlike the rest, Haroshi performs a mind boggling trick with it which hasn’t been practised before; he makes pieces of art from abandoned skateboards!
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy The Designer
Haroshi had skateboarded several times in his life; in fact it was a passion that kept him occupied for hours every day, sending adrenalin racing through his body whilst he swept past at crazy speeds all around his neighbourhood. Once, after enjoying this exhilarating and all consuming pastime, he flicked up his skateboard as was struck by a thought – a germ of an idea took birth in his mind and he knew he just had to see it fructify!
The idea was as simple as to use the old discarded skateboards found almost everywhere in a novel and artistic way; one which would lead to the creation of a visual art hitherto not explored by anyone else.
Over the years he developed a technique where he piled up an assortment of the wooden decks of discarded skateboards and bound and shaved them to form a unique piece of art.
The hidden artist in him and his penchant for skateboards gave birth to a novel art form, the creation of three-dimensional sculptures constructed out of old wooden skateboards. Haroshi, who is based in Japan, now has a website where he exhibits his unique and mindboggling collection of art.
In order to make a sculpture out of thin skateboard decks, Haroshi stacks them several layers high depending on what he has in mind; but skate decks are already processed products, and not flat like a piece of freshly bought wood. Moreover, skateboards may seem like they are all in the same shape, but actually, their structure varies according to the factory, brand and popular skaters’ signature models. With his experience and enormous knowledge of skateboards, Haroshi is able to differentiate from thousands of used skateboard decks and select the ideal ones required for the form of the sculpture that he has in mind.
After the decks are chosen and stacked, they are cut, shaved and polished with his favourite tools. Hidden within the sculpture is a metal object; by coincidence, this creative style of his is similar to the way traditional wooden Japanese Great Buddhas are built. 90% of Buddha statues in Japan are carved from wood, and built using a similar method of wooden mosaic. To Haroshi, the setting of a metal component inside his piece of art means to “give soul” to the statue. Unkei, a Japanese sculptor of Buddhas, who was active in the 12th Century and whose works is popular even today with the Japanese, used to set a crystal ball called “Shin-Gachi-Rin (Heart Moon Circle) in the position of the Buddha’s heart.
There is one more aspect that appeals to Haroshi’s senses; in creating this art he is actually putting waste to reuse and in fact he is reducing the carbon footprint of the skateboards he employs.
Over time Haroshi’s art pieces have started giving him as much pleasure as the original intended use of the skateboards; the thrills of skate-boarding have now transmigrated into his art that drives him equally. His creations have become this esoteric communication tool that unites his self with the outside world.