Eccentric Explorers: Dr. Geebers

Explorers

Often people who appear outwardly bizarre are anything but. In the case of Dr. Geebers, who left a trail of stone sculptures while walking more than 10,000km around Britain, he was simply misunderstood. Geebers was an artist exploring his craft. At the same time, he was trying to figure out how to fit into the mold of common society.

Dr. Geebers described himself as an artist trying to make a living. But society viewed him simply as a homeless man.

We first came across Geebers (real name George Barnett) while sharing a news story about a walk around Britain. While investigating how many people have walked around Britain’s coastline (as few as 53 people), an unusual name popped up on the shortlist. Geebers, it turned out, had a rather unique story.

Geebers first hit headlines in 2011. It had taken him two years to walk Britain’s perimeter. He slept rough and walked alone. Along the way, he left a trail of 44 pebble sculptures on beaches.

Originally from Northern Ireland, the then-37-year-old man saw himself as an artist trying to make a living. Society, on the other hand, saw him through a different lens.

He’d been homeless for seven years.

“Many homeless people in life hit rock bottom, and the only way is up,” he wrote in an online journal that offered some insight into his thoughts. “When I came up with the idea of creating pebble sculptures, I knew I had a chance to change my life around for the better.”

How it all began

He began his immense walk serendipitously after police ordered him to move on from his usual rough sleeping spot. He documented parts of his journey in an online blog.

“Yes, I am Dr. Geebers. A crazy man who fell on hard times. Yet I pulled myself out of the gutters of life by creating loose pebble sculptures on UK beaches and poetry rhymes. From being no one with nothing to walking the coast of the UK 6,800 miles, creating on 40+ beaches, and moving over 2,000 tonnes of pebbles/stones. While living outside with no sponsorship or funding,” his blog’s home page declared.

Dr. Geebers’ left a trail of precariously positioned pebbles and beautifully balanced boulders on more than 44 beaches while he walked Britain’s coastline.

In Bexhill, East Sussex, he left a pebble field of balancing stones. Some of the intricately balanced towers reached half a metre tall with one rock sitting atop the other. His sculptures sometimes seemed to defy gravity.

In one busy café, he left pebble towers between tables as patrons sipped coffee.

He left “crazy stones in crazy little places” at Egerton Park. Publicly uploading clips of his work to his blog, he probably hoped that one day his sculptures would be appreciated.

They say that one of the toughest aspects of being homeless is being invisible to passersby. Although people admired Geebers’ work, an exchange of words was uncommon. Though when words did pass the lips of strangers, they often left a lasting impact on Geebers.

One such supporter’s words were the inspiration for his next project.

An eleaborate pebble sculpture of a piano on Brighton Beach.

Brighton Beach work

After completing his walk around Britain, Geebers turned his attention to Brighton Beach. “My inspiration was the Mods and Rockers. It is coming up to the 40th anniversary of that movement in Brighton and I wanted to do something musical,” he said at the time.

Some of his most iconic sculptures included a guitar, a piano, and gulls. All created in a place that he said once brought him luck.

But his luck didn’t change. Despite a growing reputation as The Pebble Man, who created joy and entertainment for passersby, Geebers leaped off Brighton Pier, ending his life in 2015. He is survived by a daughter.

Most likely his sculptures have suffered similar fates, tumbling to a rocky floor or succumbing to the tides. But copycats continue his legacy along coastlines worldwide.

His alias may be coincidental, but the Urban Dictionary describes Geebers as “somebody who is unknown to others, but feels obligated to act a fool.”

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About the Author

Chasing Dreams Travel

Alex Myall

After 22 years in the exercise industry, offset by long-haul adventures around the world, Alex Myall found a better option a few years ago and has never looked back. She took a diploma in travel journalism, backed it up with travel industry certificates, then launched Chasing Dreams Travel NZ, her own travel agency.

Now she combines her love of writing and world travel with running her business from her home on the spectacular South Coast of Wellington, New Zealand, while simultaneously being mum to a gorgeous baby girl. She maintains a “life’s too short to do things by halves” attitude.

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MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
4 months ago

These sculptures are truly beautiful, and a stunning complement to their environment. I hope there is at least a high-quality photographic record. Sadly this artist gets forgotten while Jeff Koons gets millions for trash that a workshop manufactures for him– he doesn’t even make his so-called art.
Alex, thank you for this article!

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