A few weeks ago, on the 7th of August I was walking on English Bay, the ocean front of Vancouver, Canada, alongside my wife and a couple of her friends. We were on our way to have a Greek dinner as the neighbourhood is well known for its Greek restaurants for decades.
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities you could ever visit, good food, chilled out people, sea, lakes. Music. Drugs … bla bla bla till the end of the praise… but the fact is, as I’ve been there before I was so very bored
It was starting to get to my head, and I was almost on my way to confirm the famous stereotype
CANADA IS BORING, case closed, give me my Greek dinner if you have to keep me here for one more night … Nag Nag Nag…
Then I saw something that stopped me on my tracks and snapped me out of my inner monologue of complaint. I saw a stone giant standing on the beach that was made to look very dramatic with hot back light caused by the sun disc sinking into the ocean.
“What is that??!” I asked my wife’s friend Sue while pointing my stiff Egyptian finger at the Stone giant
It’s the Inukshuk said Sue, then she proceeded to say that, in the Inuit language of the far North it means “LIKE A MAN” and it was used by the natives as a land mark.
I crossed the street eager to have a closer look at Mr Inukshuk to see what he was made of.
Imagine a stone henge for start; this will create the legs and the hips of the man, then one stone balanced vertically make a a torso. Then one horizontal to make shoulders and finally a short stone to make a head.
All stones naturally balanced, no sticking, no inner frame to support. Just a giant game of Jenga that looks like a man.
For the few following days I became obsessed by the Inukshuk,
The idea of achieving man made balance which looks like a man as a land mark indicating the existence of mankind does amaze me.
The following day I headed to the nearest forest with my 9 year old niece in-law Claire on an Inukshuk building mission.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning. Stones come in all shapes and forms, balancing them on the top of one another was not straight forward, they kept falling.
“You shouldn’t think of the whole thing you have to find first the balance of every single stone involved,” said Claire, with shiny eyes like if she was overtaken by the spirit of Andy Goldsworthy the greatest British Land artist. She had the authority of a wise mentor.
“Ok, I get it now,” I said.
It is not about balancing, it is about reconfiguring balance which is already founded and contained within nature. Wow, what a lesson Claire.
Things started to get easy after this quick advice, which led to me spending 2 days in the forest building one Inukshuk after the other. Not just in the forest: I erected them on the motor way, people’s front gardens and most of all my mother in law ‘s back garden.
It the kind of task that I would recommend to everybody, especially artists, a meditation and contemplation on the concept of balance,
I believe art is a man made harmony.
Harmony is a multiple state of balance.
Therefore reconfiguring balance within nature is one of the highest aims for an artist.
And the Inukshuk, as a man-made reconfiguration of balance that looks like a man, is the ultimate human art statement.