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European Stone Stacking Championship

May 01, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


Second European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, ScotlandA stone balanced arch at the European championship, Dunbar

Believe it or not, stone stacking has a growing following around the world. It is described as a "meditative artistic skill" with benefits akin to mindfulness. The second European championship was held in Dunbar, East Lothian, over the weekend of April 21st and 22nd 2018. The winner - with the highest total score over separate competitions - received funding towards attendance at the World Stone Balance Championship, due to take place in Llano, Texas next year. Participants came from Austria, Spain, USA, France and the UK. Some enthusiasts are full-time stone stackers. It is organised by James Craig Page, a local artist and stone stacker, along with Dunbar Street Art Trail. 

Second European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, ScotlandGravity-defying stone balanceSecond European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, Scotland

I wasn't able to attend the first day, which was a pity as the weather was warm and glorious. I discovered later that a pal of mine had taken part in the first day's competitions, which included a kid's competition of most stones balanced, and a 'balance against the clock'. The second day was held on Eye Cave beach, next to Dunbar Leisure Centre. When I arrived, stone stackers were quietly practising their art on the perfect stone filled beach, with only the occasional clunks of tumbling stones to be heard, when they became unbalanced. There were a few photographers around, one of them with an enormous lens.

Second European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, ScotlandArlene Stuart, BBC TV presenterArlene Stuart, presenter of BBC TV rural affairs programme, Landward, took part and the event was filmed for the BBC Scotland TV programme

The excitement began with a 20 minute race to see who could pile the most stones on top of each other. Arlene Stuart, BBC TV presenter of the Scottish rural affairs programme 'Landward' joined in after a short lesson from James Page, talking quietly to the camera as she tried her hand at this new sport. The winner, Pedro Duran, from Spain was announced once the stones were counted and verified, having stacked 29 stones, with James Brunt (below), from Sheffield, coming a close second with 28 stones. Not quite as many as last year's winning stack of 32 stones, though.

Second European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, ScotlandStone BalancersJames Brunt, from England and Marco Montesini, from Spain, in symmetry

I hot footed it to the leisure centre to edit my photos and send them to Alamy Live News over the wifi. The broadband speed was brilliant, much faster than I have at home! After a quick lunch, I went back to the beach to watch the final competition, which was the 'most artistic stone balance'.  Competitors were able to take their time to create a visually and gravity defying work of art. One participant said that it was best not to have a fixed idea about what to make, as the stones and location dictate what can be created. Marco Montesini, a Spanish competitor, specialises in amazing towers. 

Second European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, ScotlandMarco Montesini, a competitor from Spain, creates a stone balanced work of art

Pedro Duran created a huge stone arch, and James Brunt used a large space on the beach for an interpretation of an amusement park, complete with rollercoaster and people arriving at the entrance.

Second European Stone Stacking Competition in Dunbar, ScotlandStone balanced work of art representing people at the entrance to a funfair with a rollercoaster.

The crowd had grown for the afternoon part of the event, and some members of the audience had a go at the activity. I took a lot more photos, but wasn't quite brave enough to ignore the taped off area like some of the professional photographers, who wanted to to get better angles on the balances and competitors. However, I was very pleased the next day to find that two of my photos were included in the online version of The Metro. It pays to be quick! The Times - print and online - used another of my photos (below), and it also appeared in 'The Week in Pictures' the following Saturday.

The Times April 23rd 2018My photo in The Times newspaper

My photo was alongside another by a professional photographer called Rich Dyson, with whom I have done some workshops.  Very rewarding indeed! And many thanks to the Alamy Live News team, who sent me the photo of the clipping above.





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