A-stone-ishing: The artist who balances heavy rocks on top of each other By Daily Mail Reporter

A-stone-ishing: The artist who balances heavy rocks on top of each other

Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:05 PM on 24th September 2008

You probably wouldn't want to challenge Bill Dan to a game of
Jenga if your life depended on it, as he claims to be a master of
balancing things.

The performance artists insists his skill is genuine but some people believe his work could be fake.

has been wowing the crowds in San Francisco Bay since 1994 with his
stunning sculptures of different-sized rocks resting on top of each

Rocks balanced artworks by Bill Dan
Rocks balanced artworks by Bill Dan

Rocks balanced artworks by Bill Dan

Ore inspiring: Bill Dan insists he did not use any trickery to create these sculptures

has since picked up a legion of fans on the internet - his work on
YouTube has clocked plenty of hits - and has been asked to create
sculptures for galleries and private events.

In fact his
gravity-defying work is so amazing that people sometimes refuse to
believe he doesn't use glue or some other trickery.

Bill Dan at work

Rock steady: Bill Dan wows crowds with his stunning rock sculptures

Bill Dan with his balanced rocks
Bricks balanced by Bill Dan

Fine art: Bill Dan has been balancing rocks and other objects since 1994

had so many negative e-mails from curious sceptics saying that it is
computerised art that I got tired of explaining over and over again,'
Dan said.

'Please no more questions about glue!'

The artist, who is in his mid-50s, claims he can also balance shoes, glassware and cans.

how he does it, Dan said: 'I don't picture what the sculpture looks
like beforehand, it just forms as I work. It is not difficult to stack
two or three rocks upwards.

Coke cans balanced by Bill Dan

bill dan balancing sneakers

Wow: Dan's gravity-defying work seems so unbelievable, doubters wonder if he is using glue

'Don't worry if you start with large contact points, you can get smaller and smaller as you build your skills.'

Dan said he enjoyed the art because it was 'uniquely beautiful'.

'Based on curiosity alone I could create a piece of beautiful art, unlike any other.'

Andrew Burton, one of Britain's most respected sculptors, said: 'I
would just say that this is possible – after all, he would be found out
pretty quickly if it were not.'

Watch Bill Dan create his gravity-defying rock sculptures...

Cirq's picture

I find this kind of art to be very spiritual in that it involves a very two-way communication with nature.  At its best, one is asking and hearing, "What does this (natural material) want to become?  How can I, a "mere" human being help it to become part of an expression that comes both from within me and from the essence of the "given" environment and materials?"

Andrew Goldsworthy is perhaps the classic artist of this type (and "Collaborations with Nature" is the title of one of his many excellent coffee table art books).

I've dabbled in stone balancing myself, while at the Breitenbush healing resort, and later saw one of my balancings featured on the cover of their local magazine.  They even adopted the slogan for a while "a place to find balance", which I thought was a beautiful way of putting it.

maryc's picture

Dear John,

Thank you for posting this! The awkward boulder that always wanted to be a ballerina and stand on point...gets its day!The seagull testing the newly stacked perch is wonderful! Thanks again.


davelambert's picture

I have to share that out where I hike and where there are any number of ancient standing stones, there is someone who hikes the same trails and creates masterpieces of stone balancing.  He's been at it for years, and I have never talked to anyone who has any idea who he is.  You'll see his work alongside a stream in a gully, and on inaccessible peaks and ridges as well.  I've seen stones standing up on rocky tors I've been trying for years to find a way to scale.  He leaves (what I believe are) the sacred sites alone.

When I first saw his work I thought it was ancient.  Then I realized it couldn't be.  Whoever he is, he is in tune with the land and knows of the standing stones.


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