A unique group of artists from around the world gathered in the city Saturday to display their works along the Ottawa River not far from Parliament Hill.

They are part of a long artistic tradition of stone balancing.

"It's wonderful that everyone's joined together for the same purpose — to put rocks together in a beautiful fashion," said Shelagh Lippay, who came out to see the exhibit.

The event was organized by John Felice Ceprano, who has been balancing rocks along the Ottawa River since 1986.

"What's happening this weekend is 12 artists — stone-balance artists from Italy, the United States and Canada — have come together to have a workshop, presenting their work for the public," Ceprano said.


Shelagh Lippay thought it was wonderful that people would put rocks together "in a beautiful fashion." (CBC)

He pointed out that these formations are not the same as an inukshuk, the stone cairns built as markers by people mostly in the Arctic.

"The inukshuk is like … a stacked art form. It doesn't require balance," Ceprano said.

Wind and water make stone balancing a tricky enterprise.

One bad move and the work is gone.

"When I put the stone in balance, the activity is very, very dangerous," said Nella Betti Faillia, who is from Rome, Italy.

"And [it] is necessary [to have] concentration, a lot of concentration. When I finish my balance, the life is different," she said.

Michael Grab is from Boulder, Colo., and, yes, he’s heard the jokes.

"For me, it's a very meditational thing. It becomes a very intimate interaction between artist and environment," Grab said.

Tamaya Garner, another visitor to the site, thinks people should bring their children to see the balancing stones.

"You're not doing anything but looking at the water and playing with rocks. It's great. I think more people should bring their kids here. Tell them no cell phones, no texting. We're just coming here to look at the rocks and watch the water go by."

It’s an art exhibition that’s open to everyone, with no admission charge, and it's drawing big crowds along the Ottawa River Parkway.