In 1981 Isamu Noguchi completed his largest, heaviest and most nomadic artwork, Thunder Rock. This 15-tonne granite sculpture travelled 3 times across the pacific in search of a home, after its original commissioner in the USA was unable to complete the purchase.
When Dunhill and O’Brien encountered the sculpture in Yorkshire on a cold windy day in March 2009 they were struck by the gap between Noguchi’s expressed intention (to make an elemental form transcending the banalities of daily life) and the logistics of repeatedly crating, shipping and storing the work, with its expanding carbon footprint and related paper trail. It seemed a particularly poignant example of one of the troublesome paradoxes that may be encountered when making sculpture.
In response to an invitation to make a temporary work for a park in Tokyo, Dunhill and O’Brien made a full-size transcription of Noguchi’s sculpture, based upon photographic documentation and written descriptions. Tailored in ‘distressed’ beige and cream leatherette to mimic the carved and un-carved surfaces of the granite, their Rock could be stowed as cabin luggage. Like an out-sized Pakamac or sports holdall it travelled with them Economy Class to Tokyo before a trip to visit Noguchi’s studio and quarry in Shikoku. Back in Tokyo and fully upholstered this ungainly object was cautiously wheeled through the back streets of Nishi Ogikubo on a convoluted route to avoid the steep hill between the studio and park, eventually reaching its month-long location at a picturesque spot overlooking the lake in Zempukuji Park.