What is Stone Balancing

“Balancing stones … is, or can be, meditation, a physical feat, a creative challenge, an art… In Asia – in Tibet, Japan and South.
Korea, for instance – stones are stacked as the embodiment of a prayer. In Canada and Alaska, stones were, and are still, used to build free-standing dry stone totemic figures, called inukshuk. These serve as surrogate human presences that help to herd reindeer, and as friendly landmarks in a vast, lonely and nearly featureless landscape.”

Essentially, Stone Balancing is about placing stones one on top another in ways which seem to defy gravity. It may seem an absurd activity, but with careful poise and a Zen like “oneness” with the Stones, it is possible to create magical ephemeral configurations that baffle and bewilder. And it’s precisely those reactions that make Stone Balancing Art so curiously attractive.

Many people think there is a trick involved – cement, Photoshop or even the use of a bit of chewing gum to keep the stones in balance. But the only real trick is the practice of patience, concentration and sensitivity that sometimes results in what could be termed an existential or meditative state of being.

You have to surrender to what the stone can “give”. It’s about collaborating with the nature of the stones and learning to recognise and accept their limits of ability. In a metaphorical sense, how often do we try to balance things that can never be balanced because we lack the awareness or deny the true qualities of those things ?

Successful Stone Balancing brings you completely down to Earth and obliges you to really touch the essence and nature of the Stones and their Environment. If the wind gets up, the Stones can fall over. Natural. But a need to attach so much importance to everything we touch and create is not natural. It is learnt. An essential part of learning to Stone Balance requires an “Unlearning” of that preciousness and illusion of control we often impart on our surroundings. Once you commit to the challenge of Balancing Stones in challenging ways – you make an invisible “contract” between yourself, the Stones and the Environment.

like says Adrian Gray: only in nature is there balance, perfect balance.

In nature there is no such thing as imperfect balance: everything has its time and its place, its purpose the continuing function of the planet. In the 150 years since the start of the industrial revolution, man has been hell-bent on upsetting that balance, and has had some success. But fear not – nature will prevail eventually, because balance is continuous, with no exceptions. It’s just a matter of time.

My time, over the past decade, has been spent almost solely in the pursuit of the creative balancing of stones. The catalyst, a period of dark times and solitude, was to inspire in me an original concept: to build sculptures from naturally weathered rocks and stones that with an improbable composition and simplistic beauty are balanced in a state of equilibrium. For me it’s the simplicity of my work that makes it magical, and on making this discovery I also found a perseverance to achieve one aim – to create art that inspires a sense of wonder.

The process of balancing the stones is performance art in a very pure form. The audience can witness the creation of a sculpture, but the very process of balancing the stones has been called many things, some contradictory: calming, tense, therapeutic, mesmerising, beautiful, puzzling and even spiritual. It has a meditative quality, it forces you to ignore the continual chattering in your head and absorb yourself in the process of the balance. You ‘listen’ with your fingers, your focus targeted and complete. Fundamentally, you find the stillness inside yourself and become one with the stones.

For many, my sculptures seem alive, they have a presence. People react in different ways, in some cases with strong emotions. This, of course, can be the purpose of art: to disturb you, to leave you uneasy with yourself and wary of the world, to undermine your sense of reality to make you reconsider all that you think you know. The finest art should shatter your beliefs, devastate your intellect, leave you perplexed and make you doubt the conventions that bind us, weigh us down and drown us in a sea of conformity. If I achieve any of these, my job is done.

My work needs no elaborate explanation or complex deconstruction; I want people to form their own ideas about what it means to them. By its very simplicity, by the use of natural stones, by its rational abeyance of the laws of nature, it speaks for itself. If you were to ask me why the sculptures can have such an impact, I would tell you about the paradox. The paradox of fragility and solidity. The fragile nature of the balance versus the solid nature of the stones. This might be enough for some, but others would need more, they want the elaborate explanation. The point, however, is that my work is interesting and fun, because everyone and anyone can express their opinions, criticising or liking with equal justification and merit.

As my sculptures are transitory they have to be captured photographically so they can endure. The photographs can provoke endless scrutiny and controversy, admiration and awe, but mostly they are proof that what is static can also be alive. That what has lived will always die. (Except of course if you have one of the fixed sculptures.)

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