A 15-year-old female Caretta caretta sea turtle, Paola had been found swimming on the surface of the water near Capri at the end of August, unable to dive. The condition, known as ‘floating syndrome’, can be provoked by illness, but is more commonly caused by the ingestion of plastic bags and other synthetic marine waste. It was an emotional moment for the centre’s staff, who had helped nurse Paola back to health with the support of the Anton Dohrn marine zoology institute in Naples. For one tearful helper, it was “like seeing a daughter leave home”. The turtle took to the water immediately, applauded by a crowd of marine reserve staff, end-of-season sunbathers and diners at the nearby Lo Scoglio restaurant.
Paola’s plight underlined what can happen when the balance of nature is disturbed. It seemed appropriate, then, that another kind of natural balance was on display at Marina di Cantone that day. An international group of twenty stone balancing artists were at work on the pebbly beach as part of BAWI 2013 – the ‘Balance art world intermeeting’, a week-long event centred on Massa Lubrense.
For leading Italian stone-balancing exponent Renato Brancaleoni stone balancing is both a form of meditation and a way of tuning into nature. “In order for it to work”, he says, “you have to empty your head of all thoughts. It’s not just stones you’re balancing – it’s yourself”. But at the same time, Brancaleoni warns against taking the art too seriously. “It should be joyful”, he explains, “not so much a discipline, as a game”.
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