Rock On – Vancouver’s Rock Balancing Artists

Photo: Flickr Mark Klotz

Being an “outdoorsy” type I naturally, pun intended, gravitate to artists who find their inspiration in the great outdoors.  Photographers who capture the magic golden hour light over the North Shore Mountains, visual artists who skillfully paint landscapes and seascapes and musicians who portray the beauty of nature in their work.  Particularly intriguing for me are those artists who implement natural materials in their creations.  Astonishing sculptures made only of driftwood, roots, and burls trigger my imagination.  Gravity defying sculptures made of rock cause me to pause and reflect.  I find this artistic collaboration between man and nature captivating!

“Rock Garden” – Stanley Park Seawall Photo: Rob Weiss

Recently, while strolling along the Stanley Park Seawall, I had the great privilege of observing a “rock balancer” at work. What’s rock balancing you ask?  Essentially, rock balancing or stone stacking is an art form in which rocks are placed on top of each other, creating unique shapes and figures.  No supports of any kind are permitted.  In truth, humans have been stacking stones since early time.  Cairns have used throughout history to mark trails, places or events.  Our Inukshuk at English Bay is a spectacular symbol of friendship, an iconic Vancouver landmark and one of our most famous rock sculptures.  Although maybe not quite as grand as the Inukshuk, the sculptures I observed during my recent walk were certainly impressive.

Inukshuk at English Bay Photo: Rob Weiss

Curiosity got the best of me, and I felt compelled to stop to observe the artist more closely. He appeared to be in an almost trance-like state,  more intent on the process versus the product he was creating.  Ignoring the rules of physics, he patiently selected each stone and placed it on his work with great care and attention.  Before my eyes, stones of different sizes, shapes and colours became a single entity. Enthralled, I watched the sculpture evolve.  I desperately wanted to chat with the rock balancer and learn more about his craft, yet I did not want to intrude upon his zen-like state.

Photo: Neill Austin – Unsplash

Honestly, I am not sure how long I watched this master craftsman at work.  Time seemed to stand still.  It occurred to me that with the incoming tide his incredible sculpture would soon be gone, unable to match the power of the ocean.  Ironically, I found the thought somewhat comforting.  Tomorrow there would be a blank canvas waiting for another artist to find his or her inspiration.  Rock on.

False Creek Photo: Rob Weiss

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