#1097. Finding Balance in Life

By Ian Varkevisser | Art & Creativity

Mar 07

If you were to go down to your local beach in the morning to catch the sunrise and were confronted with the view below, you might be forgiven for feeling a sense of spirituality. You might even find that elusive thing called calm if you sat on the rocks and meditated taking in this vista.

Rock balancing as opposed to rock stacking is a performance art. Some might even call it devotion. There are many supporters and an equal number of critics of the practice. The geometric shapes and towers created often seem to defy gravity, but it is actually gravity that holds them in place.

The creator of these mystical sculptures goes by the name of Waz’s Weirdworld a.k.a Still RockZ.

You can find him some days creating his stereoliths on the rocks near one of the local tidal pools, surreptitiously decanting from a quart bottle into an innocuous water flask, taking re-hydrating sips after hard lifting.

It can take up to an hour to balance a formation, continually readjusting and aligning centres of gravity. He sees it as taking time out from the hustle and bustle of modern day life, to readjust his own mental balance.

Waz is quite sanguine about the temporal nature of his creations and their susceptibility to the forces of nature, or to “haters” who may destroy them for their own obnoxious reasons.

On social media there are sceptics aplenty, decrying this relatively harmless pursuit. From those who condemn it from a child-safety angle, to those who rebuke the practice from an ecological perspective, lamenting the disruption of the marine life living under the rocks.

However, such critics are predictably mute when it is pointed out to them that life is perilous. Children walking on the rocks could fall and injure themselves. They might get swept off the tidal pool edge at high tide and drown. These nippers could even get hit by a train crossing the unguarded railway lines at this location.

Then there are the eco warriors who complain about disrupting the marine life. They are strangely silent when point out that this is a carbon zero pursuit as opposed to their pursuit of traipsing through the bushveld in a gas guzzling 4×4, all in the name of recreation or tourism. It happens to be perfectly acceptable for them to make a living that way, but lo and behold anyone who innocently places one rock on another. Its a woke old world.

Last Man Standing

Undaunted by the negativity of the destroyers he returns to restore his own balance and peace of mind.

He will painstakingly select a rock  and rotate it in all directions assessing its potential. Sometimes placing it over and over in various positions until it fits delicately into place.

This artform is not for the fainthearted or the unfit. These rocks are no lightweights and require core strength and posture while being placed.

The stability of a rock structure depends on the location of each rock’s center of mass in relation to its support points. If other rocks are also on top or contacting it at any point, then the forces (due to weight) of other rocks also play a role. For an individual rock to be stable, it usually requires at least three contact points to rest on, forming a “tripod.” Generally, the closer together the points in the tripod, the less stable the rock will be (thus making it more precarious, and becoming a rock balance sculpture – and many would argue more beautiful).

The yin and yang of a meditative morning’s sunrise shoot. Yes it has been pointed out to me, by an astute critic of my images, the phallic nature of one of the rock towers and how longingly the maiden is gazing at his prowess.


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  • pascaljappy says:

    Ian, thank you for this. If you meet Waz, please let him know he has a major fan in France.

    Also, maybe the acts of the dipshits who destroy his work can be seen as completing his cycle of creation. He creates, they destroy, in a natural cycle. Their blunt stupidity can be seen as providing a blank canvas for a new cycle. Maybe they lead to an evolution of his thoughts and to different works than if he ran out of place?

    The two of you should definitely team up and photograph his creations in various lights for an exhibition. For profit or for charity, that’s for you to decide. But if the local authorities posted a series of those photographs along the beach, they could educate the population to appreciate art and understand how much richer it makes the area.


    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pascal, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I will pass your philosophy on to him next I see him, but I have an idea he already views it in much they same way as you suggest. Unfortunately the local authorities are on the side of the fence that consider such work a ‘public nuisance’ and would given the opportunity probably be the first to push them over. The community by and large is split on the issue, the majority however in favour considering the stacks temporary art forms, which is encouraging. It only takes 1 irate ‘dipshit’ however to come along and push them over.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Everyone has “opinions” – well I don’t, I gave up on them years ago, but that story’s too impolite to publish in DS.

    But can this “everyone” create sculptures-by-the-sea like this guy? I don’t think so.

    If nature deposited these rocks on top of one another in exactly the same way and a child walking through the area was injured by the rocks, that would be “bad luck” or “karma”. Why is it any different, when some one piles the rocks up together like this?

    You can see, Ian, that this is a very thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing it.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Plus: what’s a kid doing alone next to balancing stones. Do the parents have zero responsibility in where their children go or what they do?

      • Ian Varkevisser says:

        Hi Pascal, that appears to be the modern trend that parents do not have to take responsibility for educating their kids and if as a result they fall foul of something then it is always someone else’s fault. Its a weidworld we live in these days.

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Hi Pete, you don’t have an opinion ? could have fooled me 🙂 we know you for you famous opinion comments. I would be sorely disappointed if my posts did not provoke comment. Would be in danger of losing my second name – wooden spoon – now wooden I 🙂

  • Zelma van Wyk says:

    What a great and informative article bringing in the human side and the artist. Most people would just see a pile of rocks and not the meaning behind it . You must definitely get this article in a local newspaper

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Zelma, thank you. These rocks have been published in a news article before and incorrectly attributed to someone else who stacked some rocks in the same location – not balanced mind you. As to forwarding the article to the local news paper – not to sure the publicity would be welcomed in the greater community. The wokerati would probably crawl out the wood work and bring it to the authorities attention.

  • Steve Mallett says:

    Ian, Fabulous post and pics. Great to hear about the artist and not just see the “stones”. And motoring along Clarence Drive is likely to be way more dangerous for kids than a stack of stones on the beach!

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Steve, yup as mentioned the tidal pool with its breaking waves or slimy rock in the middle that the kids clamber on to an jump off probably poses more of a threat to their safety – but hey social media brings out all the grumps.

  • Lad Sessions says:

    Ian, Very interesting post, in many ways, with a few spectacular photos in twilight. Waz sounds like someone I would like to meet, and about the first question I would ask him is: Why no tattoos on your left arm? As for the artistic merits/demerits of rock balancing, I’ll leave that to someone else. I do like the sense of precariousness, though; it calls our attention to the fragility of life and the transience of everything. Whether everything is “empty,” as the Buddhist sutras have it, nothing lasts forever, and it’s human self-indulgence to think that we can make anything that much out-lasts us, much less an entire geological era–or forever! So I welcome works that self-consciously evoke their own evanescence. Thank you for recalling us to this deep truth. Lad

  • Pascal O. says:

    Spectacular pictures, most interesting article. Thank you, Ian!

  • Sean says:

    Hi Ian,
    This article and accompanying images of yours come with their own mass. In regards to Waz, I like this bit where you describe why Waz does this rock balancing activity “… He sees it as taking time out from the hustle and bustle of modern day life, to readjust his own mental balance…” Good on him, for doing so – that in itself is a challenge worth pursuing. In some ways, for Waz to do rock balancing, he is practicing at ‘being in the moment’ – to do that he probably does his best to not dwell on the past, nor dream of the future, but simply concentrates his mind on being in the present. This, to me at least, aligns with when a photographer is being mindful, being present, and being there, when immersed in the art and craft of photography. It looks to me, you did just that: you were being in your own moment when you photographed Waz as he dealt with aspects of mass and rock balancing. Well done.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Sean, Yes, he has adopted a very zen , if not somewhat fatalistic, approach to his pursuit. Thank you for commenting.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Thanks for sharing your excellent images of Waz and his balancing rocks, Ian! I so appreciate his dedication to this unique art form which is almost in the form of a meditation by the seaside. The fact that some idiots can do nothing but destroy beauty is quite distressing, but as someone mentioned, it may be part of the “life” of the stacks. They do have more longevity than other artists’ work which is meant to be temporary – like designs scrapped on to a sandy beach, for example. Thanks again.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Nancee , He appears to be throwing out a humourous challenge to nature using none other than gravity and delicate balance. There are those in life who create and those who know no better than to destroy – we live in a country of entitlement and wanton destruction but that is a another story in its own right.

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