SBAM, the art of Stone Balancing in Tuscany
Have you ever heard about a meeting of stone balancing in Tuscany? Have you ever seen upright sculptures made of rocks one above the other, wondering how they can stand? Well, this is the art of balance rocks and Marina di Massa in northern Tuscany is ready to hosts the third edition of SBAM on the 9th and 10th June 2018.
SBAM is the acronym of Stone Balancing Art Meeting and for the third year, this odd event will animate the seafront Lungomare di Ponente.
Thanks to a great job of the Pro-Loco Marina di Massa Association supported by the Municipality of Massa and to a few passionate volunteers, “Balancers” from all over Italy and Europe meet up at the rocky pebble beach of this town along the Apuan Riviera to create their fascinating artworks.
The last two editions, in spite of an unstable weather, hundreds of visitors crowded the coast watching these artists of rocks, capturing with their camera or smartphone, these unbelievable sculptures made of stones of different shape, weight, and color.
The SBAM Flag
I took part in the second edition on 2016 and I decided to share my experience at this event of stone balancing in Tuscany especially with the people that do not even know the existence of this form of art and to everyone who wishes to participate.
The rocky beach of Marina di Massa.
A brief story of what Stone Balancing means
The stone balancing is the activity, and the ability I would say, of balance stones and rocks with no other support than gravity.
How is materially possible to balance rocks? A minimum of three points of contact is necessary to balance. Every stone has a surface with many different indentations and these help balancers playing. They have to choose the right stones, to touch them, to feel them and to understand the best way to lay them, one on top of the other.
Being well stable on the ground is one of the secrets of the balancers to more easily find the balance of stones.
Moreover, you need time and patience, silence and concentration, and of course, a lot of practice. The more you try, the more beautiful and incredible piece of arts you will be able to create.
There is then a non-physical element in stone balancing. In fact, it has a strong bond with the Zen practice. This art has deep roots in the millennial history of the humankind and it has been always a method of meditation. The process of balancing objects, in fact, allows people to clear their mind and body from thoughts, to concentrate themselves looking for the points of balance of every single rock and of the entire creation.
The most difficult step of the stone balancing is the “placing” of rocks on top of the others. First, every stone must respect the balance that other stones already have, then it has to find its own balance.
The stone balancing enlarges mind sensitivity and the feeling of the energy exchange between person and stones. It even has a relaxing effect on the soul that depends also on another essential element: the place where the person plays. People can balance stones by the sea, a lake, a river or wherever there is flowing water and silence.
Stone balancing in Tuscany at SBAM: the Balancers experience
With a mix of curiosity and skepticism, while I was doing my usual morning walk on a sunny Saturday morning of two years ago, I moved closer to these people focused on placing stones over other stones. Since the time I arrived at the beachside, these incredible columns of stones bewitched myself. I was so curious to know more about this art and its secrets that I started to talk with some of the balancers.
During my time at SBAM, I met really nice persons that introduced me into the world of the stone balancing and I am happy to share with you their stories.
Gianna is a smiling and cheerful woman from Veneto, a northern region of Italy. She has a passion for nature, land art, and for stone balancing. She loves to balance rocks and other natural materials surrounded only by nature, listening to sound of the water that flows, because when you are deeply alone and in peace with yourself you create the most incredible things. For her, the stone balancing is meditative, a cure for the pain of soul.
She invited me to try, giving me some tips on how to balance. For example, even if it seems harder, sometimes it’s easier to balance two stones at the same time instead of one. She warned me that if, while balancing, the good vibes come to me, I won’t stop anymore to do it!
The funny “aspirant artist” Carlo from Marche, works for the first aid, but has a great passion for the stone balancing, especially if made into the water. He thinks that there’s something magic around this rocky beach in Tuscany that gives out its enemy inspiring balancers. Here he finds water and stones, the two classical elements of nature at the base of his creations.
He gave a reason why people start to play with rocks: the research of their own balance through the stones. As every person on earth, who starts to balance has its own trouble and deep scars, and through the balance of stones they find their well-being. Moreover, the stone balancing is cheap, funny and cause addiction!
Gianna, Carlo and Martina at work at SBAM Stone Balancing in Tuscany
Finally, I spoke with Martina (25 yo), the youngest and last entry of the SBAM group, that told me about her wonderful story. The connection with stone balancing lasts since she was young, but she did not remember anything about her skills. She started to balance only six years ago after a series of unfortunate events that changed her life. Thanks to her mum she recover memories from her childhood when she used to go with her grandfather, that was an artist, looking for roots for his creations. And it’s during these walks along mountain tracks that she started for the first time to balance stones and roots together.
Comparing my first “balance” to one of my favourite artwork.
Staring at these artworks that look incredible, we wonder how they can stand, which strength support them. Trying to balance we understand that many things that seem impossible are actually possible and that we need to trust in ourselves.
As Carlo said, if a stone falls down from your creation you did not lose anything, but you won a new chance to try again.
What about you? Have you ever tried? If not the SBAM staff is waiting for you in Marina di Massa for the third edition, to gives you the opportunity to practice the stone balancing in Tuscany.
(updated the 3rd May 2018)