When stonemason Josh Bowes needed stone to create a skull for an exhibition at the Ballarat Art Gallery he knew just where to look.

In the heart of gold rush country on a friend’s farm, a one and a half tonne basalt boulder had sat unwanted for generations. Over the years farmers had moved it around and threatened to blow it up.

Josh is a stonemason who has dedicated his life to exploring the material. He carves, he sculpts, he draws and he build walls from stones. He loves stone because it is rustic and honest. The appeal of creating harmony from its randomness drives him.

Josh Bowes comes from a line of men who made things with their hands. His father was a furniture maker, his grandfather a farmer.  Josh studied landscape architecture at university but left after a year, itching to work with his own hands. At 19 he set up a drystone-wall business, and since then he’s been at work in paddocks, rural streets and back gardens, with only a hammer, chisels and his imagination.

Each stone and each job is different. Josh is inspired by history and the process and would prefer to build a wall with the stones littering a paddock, than have fresh ones brought in.

His favourite of his walls encloses a herd of cattle that rub against it, burnishing the stones. He loves the composition that he’s created in the landscape: the wall is practical and beautiful, changing with the seasons.

And that unwanted basalt boulder? After a month of chiseling and hammering, being transported by excavator and trailer, it sat proudly displayed in The Ballarat Art Gallery.

Josh’s other creations, drystone walls, headstones and sculptures, can be found around the region. Or on instagram @drystonejackson

About the author

Kate Ulman
Kate Ulman

Kate Ulman has many titles: mother, wife, organic farmer, baker, crocheter, knitter, stitcher and creator of a fantastic blog, Foxs Lane.