Architecture students chalk up labyrinths

Labyrinths have been in the news at Lincoln recently. Students from the University of Lincoln’s School of Architecture drew a chalk labyrinth in front of the Main Academic Building – photographs can be seen on the Lincoln School of Architecture blog here 

University of Lincoln School of Architecture students drawing a chalk labyrinth

Architecture students went on to draw a replica of the Chartres Labyrinth under the central tower of Lincoln Cathedral as can be seen here

Les Acklam talks about labyrinths

I was first initiated into the labyrinth when I attended  a week-end workshop facilitated for the first time in the UK by Lauren Atress herself. It took place at Winford Manor just outside Bristol in the summer of 2001.  Lauren Artress, from Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, is generally credited with being one of the first to rediscover this long-forgotten spiritual tool in the early 1990’s. It was the 11-circuit labyrinth at the medieval cathedral at Chartres in France which She became so committed to opening up the experience of walking a labyrinth for as many people as possible that she set out to ‘pepper the planet’ with them – and she has been very successful in dong so, through such workshops as the one I attended at Winsford, which couldn’t be succeed in enthusing the many participants who went out to ‘spread the word’.

I returned to Lincoln, and enthused about the experience to my colleague, senior student counsellor, Eunice Mather. Together we formed a pact to make  our own canvas following the instruction pack available from Grace Cathedral.

The rest of Les’s account of how the Ermine Labyrinth came into being can be found under the Labyrinth Projects link at the top of this page.

Labyrinth at Melton Mowbray as part of ‘Approaches to Prayer’ Lent course by Les Acklam

Some 40 or so members of local Melton Mowbray churches attended the third session of a Lent course which was exploring different approaches to prayer. In one sense these were ‘new’ ways, but really they were all revivals of age-old traditions, largely overlooked and unused since the Age of Rationalism cast doubt on anything that wasn’t cerebral.

This 3rd session re-introduced the labyrinth, a feature of many medieval churches, particularly the cathedrals of France and northern Italy, but which fell out of use, and was only recently re-discovered in the 1990’s.  By walking a labyrinth we are re-discovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that many find surprisingly potent.

St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray had 20 x 20 foot space in a chapel on the south side which allowed for a 7-circuit Petit Chartres labyrinth. Using a labyrinthograph (!), the 7 circles on which this particular design is based, were traced on to the flag-stones in carpenter’s pencil which then enabled the final outline to be marked out with masking tape.

After a brief introduction, the ‘pilgrims’ were invited to walk. There was an enthusiastic but attentive response. Equally important is the reflection afterwards, in this case, shared reflection which deepened the experience and provided  food for on-going meditation in the days ahead.

[nggallery id=15]

Although the outline on the floor had always intended to be short-lived –‘ for one night only’ , such was the collective experience that a decision was made to leave it in place for several more days to allow for, second walks, perhaps when fewer people were present, and for  others who had not participated in the evening to have an opportunity to share in the experience.

Health Campus Week and Walking the Labyrinth at Lincoln

poster for healthy campus week

Healthy Campus Week gave students and staff at Riseholme and Brayford the experience of walking the labyrinth. 

[nggallery id=13]

This opportunity to take time out is welcome. University chaplain Les Acklam offered a chunk of quiet relaxing time to focus on the path beneath your feet as it meanders into the centre of the Ermine Labyrinth and back out again. Unlike a maze, you can’t get lost in a labyrinth, you can only reach the centre and then work your way back to the beginning. Many people say this is a metaphor for life – but the true value of walking the labyrinth is it can represent whatever you want it too.

[nggallery id=14]

Evaluation samples

“Actually more effective than I thought it would be, I felt confused when finding myself drifting away from the centre, but accomplished when I got there.”

“Gets annoying that you feel like you don’t get anywhere. But it’s something different to try.”

“I enjoyed the experience very much the music did help my mind felt empty and it enabled me to release a lot of negative energy. The reach to the middle simbolized achieving my goal.”

“Dizzy but more concentrated.”

“I liked the music and the green lights and also the way it was all curved lines and no straight ones made it easier to walk through it.”

“Not at all what I expected, finally a chance for some peace amongst this busy life. It gave me chance to think about plans and problems. Give it a chance and you’ll get out of it what you put in.”

Labyrinths from Glen and Rebecca

I was delighted to hear from Glen Robinson, Graphic Design lecturer at the University of Lincoln, about the labyrinths he and his friends have been building. Glen has kindly provided this link to more pictures on Flickr and the text below.
[nggallery id=11]

“The artists collaboration GRRR and any friends they can talk into helping have been quietly building labyrinths in the sand on Lincolnshire beaches and in fields of snow for a couple of years now.‘We feel the process of making a labyrinth is an expression of coalescence with nature, to attain coherence with our surroundings and resonate with an ancient symbol. The ephemeral quality of using materials or building in environments where nature will “take back” is an interesting process for artists to explore and working in public often creates an opportunity to discuss the symbol’s design and origin with passers by, who are encouraged to walk the path, although the labyrinths we build are primarily for personal reflection and relaxation; a token of the unbounded potential of everything”.

GRRR – Glen & Rebecca

Walking the Labyrinth in Lincoln Cathedral

The Lincoln ‘Ermine Street’ Labyrinth was set out in the dramatic setting of Lincoln Cathedral on 29th September by Lincoln University Chaplain Les Acklam. This was part of an activity day for pupils from special needs schools from across the county.  Two workshops were held for two groups of a dozen pupils who enjoyed the experience of walking the labyrinth and were intrigued by its design and history.

[nggallery id=10]