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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Labyrinth Workshop

Spent a very happy day today, at St Anne's chapel in Barnstaple, working with environmental artist Linda Gordon, making a labyrinth to celebrate the North Devon Biosphere's 10th anniversary.

We started with an illustrated talk by Linda about the history and significance of the labyrinth and it's prevalence in so many ancient cultures. Following from that we drew a classical or Cretan labyrinth to instructions provided by Linda, a lovely meditative activity itself, this is a picture of a badge I bought years ago with a classic labyrinth on it.



 A drawing in my little A6 sketch book.


Having mastered, sort of, the art of drawing a 7 path labyrinth we went outside onto the grass and into the sunlight. Linda had laid out a cross of string to define the size of the labyrinth, she had worked out that each pathway should be 2ft wide so we laid the central cross of sticks with 4ft arms. To lay out the labyrinth you need this central cross, and then 4 'half squares' with a dot to mark the 4th corner of each of these 'squares', The picture below shows where these lines are on my hand drawn version. If you were making a proper labyrinth you would measure carefully and make an effort to keep the paths even. You can see that I definitely didn't do that!

The labyrinth is constructed by joining the lines starting with the top of the central vertical line joining to the top of the next line over, either right or left I suppose, whichever feels correct to you, I've gone right every time, maybe because I'm right handed. Linda's instruction indicated right but the one on my badge seems to be left handed.

There's a whole load of sites out there to find out about labyrinths, there's even an international labyrinth day.

We used sticks to build our labyrinth in the grass with Linda's patent measuring stick keeping us on track. Once we had it all laid out with a single line of sticks, we added more to bulk up the lines and give them more presence on the ground.

The finished thing looked really great and seemed to really belong there, among the daisies and including the odd jackdaw feather that had been found as we built.


Here's the finished labyrinth, I couldn't get high enough to fit the whole thing in on my little camera, but here is most of it, in the background you can see Linda leaning on her measuring stick, with one of the other participants. As you can see it was a gorgeous day and the sun dappled the ground through the lime tree canopy. amazingly the centre of the labyrinth seemed to be under the centre of this canopy, created by two large lime trees.

After lunch in the sun, we all walked the labyrinth, this is what it's all about, making the meditative walk around the paths. Once in the centre I noticed a great view of the sky, with the roof of the chapel framing it with the dancing lime leaves, so I walked in again with my camera and took a photo.

I love this picture, it's an image of me feeling calm and happy! Something that is quite rare these days, my life this last year has been pretty grim in places and I'd like to think this day is some kind of turning point for me. I intend that it will be.

I thought I would take a picture from ground level to show the labyrinth in it's setting, but it's almost invisible! I quite like that, it's a very ephemeral piece of art and the fact that my camera can't see it is really fascinating. Shows how good the human eye is compared to a camera!


The feather sticking up at the right there, is the entrance to the labyrinth and you can just make out some sticks in front of the tree on the left. I could see it clearly, how come the camera can't?

Here's a closer view looking across the labyrinth towards the centre from the right hand side

Thanks for a great day Linda, I've got plans for a small labyrinth in my back garden now, and I'll be doing something along jewellery lines I think.



This picture is from the news section of the biosphere website, me, with hands in pockets, Linda in the centre with a young fan and another participant walking the labyrinth.

Just as an aside St Anne's Chapel is about the oldest building in Barnstaple and a fascinating little place which is adding to the town's cultural life considerably.

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