Red Oak Labyrinth Closing

With the closing of the exhibition Beyond the Edge:Artist Gardens came the obligation to dismantle and restore the site of the Red Oak Labyrinth. Much more happened under the branches of this grand old oak tree then I ever could have imagined. Many visitors to the site wrote about their experiences in the notebooks left at the centre to capture inspirations and comments. It was important to me to honour all that had taken place in the labyrinth over the summer and while I could have quietly put the project to bed, I wanted the support of the community for whom the place had become meaningful. For me and for many this labyrinth  had gone beyond art project or perhaps it was art at its best, really touching people in profound ways.

We gathered for a last walk in the Red Oak Labyrinth. some folks like to walk in the labyrinth alone but this evening it was all about community. Yes, it is a temporary and changeable thing but this labyrinth drew us together, one and all.
We gathered for a last walk in the Red Oak Labyrinth. Some folks like to walk in the labyrinth alone but this evening it was all about community. Yes, community is temporary and changeable but this labyrinth drew us together, one and all.

Gratitude and Thanks Giving

 Gratitude and Thanks Giving

Gratitude and thanks giving to she who is Red Oak for spreading wide her branches, offering shelter, shade and centering to host our wanderings in the labyrinth.

Gratitude and thanks giving to all those ancient ones whose wisdom, knowledge and spirit informs our time beneath this grand old Red Oak in the meandering path of the labyrinth.

Gratitude and thanks giving to the Candensis Botanical Garden Society and Agriculture Canada for collectively taking a leap of faith in hosting and facilitating Beyond the Edge: Artist Gardens. This is the first installation and intervention on the land that has been designated to become the future home of a National Botanical Garden and I am so very pleased to have been a part of it.

Oak Labyrinth-72
Collecting the 8 Notebooks filled with “Oak Inspired Thoughts’.

Gratitude to Canadensis for acquiring the Round Tree Bench and ensuring that this spot will continue to be a available as a place of contemplation for all who visit.

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Mary Faught Co-Curator

Gratitude and thanks giving to Mary Faught for her visionary willingness to imagine this exhibition into existence with Co-curator Judith Parker whose gift with words and deep experience helped secure the needed funding to make all this possible.

Judith Parker Co-Curator
Judith Parker Co-Curator

Gratitude and thanks giving to my fellow “Artists of the Field” with whom I shared a deep and meaningful connection, all be it on the fly with shovels in hand. I met my soul siblings in Glynis, Deborah, cj, Judith, Deirdre, Mary, and Karl. Thank you for your companionship in exploring and forging deeper connections between nature and culture.

Gratitude and thanks giving to the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Ottawa, and the Community Foundation of Ottawa and Canadensis Botanical Garden Society for financial support in this fledgling endeavor.

Gratitude and thanks giving to the hundreds of people, who visited the exhibition, walked the labyrinth and left many, many notes, of thanks, “Oak Inspired Thoughts” and reflective insights in the 8 notebooks, which were filled over the course of the exhibition.

Gratitude and thanks giving to all those many hands and strong backs who responded to the call for help to build this labyrinth.

Dismantalling theLabyrinth
Dismantalling the Labyrinth
Stacking up the logs.
Stacking up the logs.
The logs of the labyirnth become cord-wood once again.
The logs of the labyrinth become cord-wood once again.

Gratitude and thanks giving to all who gathered to help celebrate, honor and restore this fine place to its natural state.

The Red Oak is retored to its natural state once more.
The Red Oak is retored to its natural state once more.
Oak aged libations for all.
Oak aged libations for all.
Reflections of a great tree. Photos of the closing thanks to Stephen Hutchings.
Reflections of a great tree in a glass of oak aged white port.

Photos of the Closing Ceremony and Dismantaling of the Red Oak Labyrinth by Stephen Hutchings, with thanks!

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council,

an Agency of the Government of Ontario

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG

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Summer Solstice Labyrinth

I don’t know of an actual connection between the labyrinth and the solstice, but in my event planning with colleagues it often comes up as a question. During the construction of the Red Oak Labyrinth I realized the Summer Solstice would occur just before the opening of the project. The labyrinth beneath a grand old oak was ready and it seemed an opportunity not to be missed. So we connected the dots and it felt natural to create a ceremony offering blessings to the tree and to the very earth that supports and sustains us all, as we welcomed summer.

Among my colleagues is a group of very fine music therapists. They formed the core and provided musical leadership for a group of women singers. Together, 12 women all dressed in white circled round the labyrinth before splitting into groups at the cardinal points of the labyrinth. Using the medieval song “Summer Is Icumen In” (medieval English of the mid- 13th century) which translates to “Summer Has Come In” as a base for their musical offering, they improvised and toned around the melody.

Singers dressed in white  processing around the labyirnth.
Singers dressed in white processing around the labyirnth.

People came with small bouquets of flowers to offer and placed them along the central ring of the labyrinth. I would not want to say just what was going on for the folks who came but a few photos, given with permission sum up the profound feeling of the evening.

Flower offering.
An offering of flowers.
Green Lady
Green Lady

There was also a visit by the “Green Lady” who may not be much talked about in the pages of history books but who was very much alive in our presence that evening. She danced her way around the great circle of the labyrinth, playing out the story of the cycle of life; from seed, to sprout, to fruit, and then death and decay only to rise again the following season. I have a particular fondness for the story of the Green Man and look for representations of him on my travels and indeed it inspires my work as a Horticultural Therapist.

May wine was enjoyed as the sun set on a perfect evening.
May wine was enjoyed as the sun set on a perfect evening.

The evening of the first day of summer was perfect, as is hinted at in the photos. As the sun set we raised a glass of  “May Wine” an ancient German recipe that blends Riesling scented with Sweet Woodruff from my garden to welcome in the summer. What a perfectly sweet evening, one that I will long remember. Thank you to my musical friends and the Green Lady and all those who came to grace this place and recognize its specialness.

A meditation in the moment.
Meditation in the moment.

 

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council,

an Agency of the Government of Ontario

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG

Red Oak Labyrinth

Red Oak at the Experimental Farm, Ottawa

Site of the Red Oak Labyrinth

I have wanted to make an outdoor labyrinth under a tree for some time and the opportunity presented itself with an invitation from the Canadensis Botanical Garden in Ottawa. Curators Mary Faught and Judith Parker envisioned temporary artist projects on the site of the new Botanical Garden and have invited 5 artists/teams to create special installations this summer.

Last fall we visited the site just before the snow fell and we were back there again this week and things looked remarkable the same. No leaves on the tree and the grass just greening up.

In preparation for the project the arborist at the Experimental Farm and Arboretum trimmed off the dead branches to make it safe to work under. He suggested the tree was about 100 years old. Feels auspicious!

The tree in question is a Quercus Rubra or more commonly known as a Red Oak. Funny how most of us can’t tell a red oak from a white, but we sure know the difference between a Volkswagen and the Ford. Such is the state of contemporary living. This old oak has low hanging branches that come down almost to the ground, creating a sheltered area beneath its branches. I am hoping the experience of walking a labyrinth in the shadow of this great beauty will offer an opportunity to slow down and take in the landscape, the smells the light and shadow and for a moment enter into slow time,… tree time,… leaf time.

Follow along and track the story of how this idea becomes a real labyrinth path to walk upon.

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council,

an Agency of the Government of Ontario

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG