My interest in Labyrinths started when I set out on a pilgrimage from Wells to Glastonbury, with the set intention for the journey as Hope. The setting of an intention is the essence to both walking pilgrimage and labyrinths. Hope was in response to the fact that I was walking the pilgrimage in the summer of 2020 and the coronavirus was very much a focal point of society. My initial works around Labyrinth was when I used the the labyrinth and the Torr as an image for printing. Although this image worked as a print, I felt it did not offer any real tangible connection with the purpose of a labyrinth. Val Lupton quotes that ‘the point of a maze is find its centre. The point of a labyrinth is to find your centre’ How could you really experience a labyrinth from an image.
So I started to research the idea of creating a labyrinth and I chose Lundy Island as the specific site location. David Beech talks about site specificity when he refers to the work of Mona Hatoum, who creates work on the site and not in the studio. Beech in his youtube clip on ‘Art and Isolation’ (2020) refers to the fact that Hatoum finds “the location is usually the starting point” The idea of the site for me was definitely the starting points as I came across an anecdote I had read in Gogerty, C., (2019) that shipwrecked soldiers used to create labyrinths to while away their time when wrecked. Shipwrecks were a common occurance on Lundy Island and I made a connection with the route from the Montague steps on the rugged west coast to the Old Light lighthouse. A path similar to Richard Long’s Line made whilst walking.
At the lighthouse I found some old builders rope and with some collaboration and an image on my phone of how to create a rope labyrinth, the three of us set to work to create a labyrinth. We found that we needed more rope than we had so we downsized the labyrinth and it was still an appropriate size to walk.
On finishing the labyrinth I and my fellow collaborators walked the labyrinth. When walking the labyrinth I found it easy to travel without much thought, which is ideal for mindfulness as you need to not focus on where you walk, but just simply put one foot in front of the other slowly. The site was was indeed a special place with 360 degrees of views; the prominence of the the 19C lighthouse plus the cemetery with all its island history, plus a medieval graveyard and views out to the Atlantic and to the mainland of North Devon and Cornwall. As I walked the labyrinth I really tuned into the senses – the feel of the fresh winter cold, the sound of the birds, the feeling of the ground beneath my feet, the smell of the crisp air washing in from the Atlantic ocean.
As an aside I later discovered that Beacon hill the site of the lighthouse, maybe the place where pagans held sacred as a high hill nearer to the gods. Another reason for this site being perfect.
I added the photos on to a Labyrinth facebook group and received some positive feedback. It was suggested that the ability to select the space and place was important and maybe more so than just placing one in a specific location. This is one communication I found so inspiring.
I believe this labyrinth concept is something I can develop, it appeals because of its mobility and collaborative nature. I also found that walking the labyrinth helped me experience the senses around the walk, as the slow nature of the walking helped calm my mind and find focus. However I do feel that maybe labyrinths in themselves are not my. single focus, but the way it sets an intention and aim to help one find their centre is one of interest.
Art and Isolation (2020). Youtube. [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjBb1psf3eA. [Accessed on 13/03/2021]
Gogerty, C., (2019). Beyond the Footpath: Mindful Adventures for Modern Pilgrims. Hachette UK.