Exploring the rivers around Bogong Village I’ve been paying attention to the stones, especially some of the enormous boulders. Their weight draws attention to them, a gravitation-like summoning in the landscape. Within the linear structure of the river, they pull attention one after the other, shifting for viewing at multiple angles as they reveal themselves in changing light and weather. Glistening like the supple pelts of seals in rain and with a soft grey skin interspersed with haphazard lichens in the afternoon sunlight. The shadows of harsh full sun shift their appearance again, cracks and overhangs are sharp and their forms harden. At night they are great dark forms, silent above the tumbling chatter of the water.
Some of Isamu Noguchi’s monolithic works in stone have a similar quality, incorporating the stillness and charisma of large stones and the compositional possibilities they offer in a landscape. As focal points to shape perception the boulders seem to hold themselves more tightly than the fast-flowing water running around them or the foliage which moves with the currents of air.
Researchers Charle M. Shobe and Rachel C. Glade have shown that the larger boulders have a relationship-to the depth of rivers relative to the surrounding landscape. Over geological time scales their hardness adds to the pressures wearing down into the softer bedrock and shifting the course of water around them, leading to the steep sides of many river canyons with very large boulders. Over very long timescales they will continue this process. Virginia Woolf wrote “the very stone one kicks with one’s boot will outlast Shakespeare”, but these great inscrutable objects will continue on a longer timescale, they will eventually erode down into smaller stones, and then pebbles but the timescale of their existence is hard to fathom.