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Halifax Rocks: a stepping stone to bring people and art together

The local initiative has captured the imaginations of more than 10,000 people on a Facebook group devoted to people who paint and hide rocks around HRM

3 min read
caption Some of the painted rocks.

A small rock painting project started by a Halifax man in 2017 has taken on a life of its own.

Inspired by a similar project in Winnipeg, Ivan Graham started painting rocks and leaving them on local trails for others to find. He kicked off his Halifax Rocks initiative with a Facebook group that now boasts more than 10,000 members.

Since 2017, Graham has painted thousands of rocks and placed dozens at a time around different trails throughout the city.

Once the rocks are painted, Graham would put instructions on the back of the rocks to post a selfie or a picture and post it in the group. People could either keep or hide the rock but few would do that.

caption One of the painters at Halifax Rocks.
Ivan Graham

“Eventually, people would find them and they would join the group and post a picture. But in my experience, roughly in about every 10 rocks, I get only one person who would post back to the group,” said Graham.

Places where the rocks can be found include Peggy’s Cove, Saint Margarets Bay, Second Lake Trail, Halifax Public Gardens, Point Pleasant Park and along parts of the Halifax Waterfront.

But there are some rules to follow before hiding the painted treasures in public areas. People are advised to never place the rocks on private property, including retail and commercial properties, or in cemeteries.

The overall goal is to spread a little joy and kindness and to encourage people to get outdoors.

“It’s very fulfilling for me when I see the smiling faces of people who’ve found them,” Graham said. “It’s good to spread a little joy and kindness whenever you can.”

caption Members rock painting.
Ivan Graham

Sandra Kirkpatrick is a member of the Halifax Rocks group. She found her first rock at the Halifax Common near the Oval while on her way home last week. She now paints rocks with her entire family and hides them for other people to find. She said the idea of leaving them behind for other people to uncover  makes her happy because she knows that for some people it is a little boost to make their day better.

“Although it is exciting to see posts of my rocks and where they have travelled, I think the act of making another person smile is what this whole group should be about,” said Kirkpatrick.

Some people who have found the painted rocks include tourists. Graham recalled a few who came to visit in the summer and took painted rocks with them to Singapore.

As Graham continues to paint and hide rocks, his group continues to grow each week.

“We have community meetings where painters get together and we are planning to do it this year as well. Everyone can partake in it,” said Graham.

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About the author

Sarah Khan

I am from India studying journalism at the University of Kings College. I love going on hikes and cooking!

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