A different sort of place

The work of fellow blogger Gary, of Photos and a Little More, provided my introduction to the art and emotion of Stone Stacking. I soon learned that there existed a deep divide in opinion regarding the practice. Artists were supportive of it and environmentalists were dead set against it. Stackers argue that not only is Rock Balancing a legitimate art form, but the practice has an emotional, even spiritual, component to it. Those who oppose the practice explain that stacks are not cairns (and could be dangerous if mistaken for them), they are pointless reminders of human ego, and lead to erosion of natural areas and to disturbance of the organisms living in them. I do not mean to imply that the opinions of these groups do not overlap, for they do, and I understand the concerns of both.

She wanted to walk. So we made for a place we had visited before. I’ll meet you in an hour, she said.

Having settled on a shallow cascade, I began. I hadn’t worked stone for quite a while and was surprised that it took time to find my hands. I pushed back against my propensity to rush. I struggled to focus and to avoid thinking too far ahead.

She says that the steady rhythm of the wheel, the coordinated motions of her feet and hands, and the feel of fiber slipping by the tips of her fingers and wrist, combine to transport her to a place of peace. For me, stacking creates a similar sort of space and being there has given me some idea of what it might be like to meditate.


15 thoughts on “A different sort of place

  1. Two very interesting viewpoints – and a sublime image!

    I have seen stone stacking featured on curated hiking paths in Austria with educational/inspirational elements (like signs with scientific information about trees or water, or philosophical ramblings) – e.g. you were invited to pick a stone and add it to a pile for ‘spiritual’ reasons.

  2. I have to admit that I am not happy when walking the shoreline of the Quabbin Reservoir and finding stacks of stones. That said, they are not as artistically done as this one. Still not sure I would favor it over its absence. I know of one brook in Florence, MA that at one time had easily over 50 stacks. I imagine they had a huge negative impact on the local stonefly population.

    If you enjoy this “ephemeral art” of environmental sculptures, you might like to check out these images of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. There are also videos on YT of him working. As impressive as his work may be, I am still not sold on it’s value in relation to the impact on the small ecosystems his material is taken from.

    • Got ya … on all counts. I think, from now on, I will make my constructions ephemeral as well … I will deconstruct when done. Thanks for the link. It’s raining here in VT … we need it.

  3. Honestly? Without wishing to sound immodest, language and words come easily to me … it came naturally so in a way it was intentional but maybe the process, although natural, contains an element of subconsciousness. Numbers however present a whole different ball game for me – I am totally discalculic.

  4. Such an interesting post. I’ve always been fascinated with these balanced sculptures and have often created a cairn on a pebbly beach … it’s what we do, right? But clicking through to both links made me think a bit. The objector has a point, I suppose, but the video of the art form is amazing. On balance I’ll come down on the side of the artist. Your creation amidst the flowing water is just beautiful … and who or what can it possibly be harming?

  5. Beautiful image and prose. I like the way you captured the filtering in light. Everyone needs a place/activity that reduces stress and takes them to a space where their minds turn off. I usually find this in my yard, by the ocean and sometimes in my kitchen! Distraction from everyday life is certainly a blessing.

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