For me, the exceptional stand at the Chelsea Flower Show was the Stonebalancing stand. It was tucked away amongst the Fresh Gardens and at first glance it looked like a display of rather nice stone sculptures. Then you realised that the stones were balanced on each other, some seemingly defying gravity. Adrian Grey positions stones on top of each other in a way that seems completely impossible and created an area of magical calm amidst the bustle of the show. The stones you can buy are pinned together (for safety as some are huge), although all were naturally balanced originally. In the centre of the stand was a ring with naturally balanced stones. Every so often Adrian changes the stones. Holding the top one in place, he appeared completely still, all his concentration focused on finding the perfect balance. It seemed remarkably easy and totally impossible. After a few seconds he stepped back, leaving a perfectly balanced sculpture, which looked both precarious and solid at the same time. I think it is the contradictions that make stonebalancing so amazing: ease and impossibility, solidity and precariousness.
I bought his book, which is full of stunning photos of impossibly balanced stones, many of them on the beaches at Lyme Regis. As the tide comes in the stones are engulfed and, eventually, unbalanced. The stone boats are particularly charming, as are the stone families making their ways along the sands; others seem to defy gravity.
When I got home I decided to have a go. Dredging up the little physics I remembered, I was confident that everything must have a balancing point. It was simply a case of finding it. I selected some stones from the garden and settled down to create works of art. It is, of course, much harder than Adrian makes it look; it requires tiny, gentle adjustments, feeling for the slightest movement in the stone. It also requires a camera to hand and an attractive background, neither of which I’d thought about. Making my two little stone animals felt like a huge achievement but also made me realise just how incredible Adrian’s sculptures are.
Visit his website http://www.stonebalancing.com/, read his book, The Art of Stonebalancing, and be amazed.