Thursday, January 31, 2013

Balancing Stones


Almost everyone knows what an inukshuk is, especially after its use as the symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Inukshuks originated in the Arctic and have been used for centuries by the Inuit and other Arctic peoples as multi-use markers, for trails, campsites, food caches, spiritual places, etc.

Ordinary Canadians have embraced the symbol with typical enthusiasm. On every drive north up Hwy. 400 to Sudbury we can spot new inukshuks, sometimes in seemingly inaccessible and steep places at the sides of the road. Surprisingly, we have never actually seen anybody building one.

Recently I was watching Coast on TVO. Coast is a British series that takes a journey around the coast of the United Kingdom, exploring the fascinating natural history, history, wildlife, and biology and uncovering unique personal stories.

One of the segments featured Adrian Gray, whose pastime is balancing boulders, not into inukshuk-style cairns but into what seems like impossible balancing acts - at unusual angles - using only the weight of the stone, gravity and patience.

How awesome are these extraordinary sculptures!

Many of the rocks contain amazing fossils, which are common in parts of the UK coast, particularly in the south around Lyme Regis in Dorset.

Here's the excerpt from Coast:

Check out Adrian Gray's website and read about why he balances rocks. Only in nature, he says, is there perfect balance.

It turns out that around the world there are many people who are captivated by the art of balancing rocks. I found James Jordan of Illinois who created the sculpture below:

Here's the eloquent Canadian Kent Avery:

And a couple of men in the Philippines who remind us that rock balancing can also be performance art:

and Bill Dan in Sausalito:

There are others too, but this post has to end somewhere! All this amazing rock balancing activity looks somewhat hazardous to me. I hope all the aficionados wear safety boots.