• Labyrinths…

    ...can be thought of as symbolic forms of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. Many people could not afford to travel to holy sites and lands, so labyrinths and prayer substituted for such travel. Later, the religious significance of labyrinths faded, and they served primarily for entertainment, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen a resurgence. Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Labyrinths are used by modern mystics to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets his mind. The result is a relaxed mental attitude, free of internal dialog. This is a form of meditation. Many people believe that meditation has health benefits as well as spiritual benefits.
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Labyrinth of Herbs

www.artway.eu

Claudy Jongstra: Labyrinth of Herbs

herblabyrinth

Pilgrimage

by Wilma Wagenaar

High windows and walls, whispering silence, welcoming light – we have arrived.

Our journey takes us over the motorway, through the suburbs of Tilburg, deeper and deeper intoBrabant’s countryside. Under a viaduct we go, over a small bridge, along a country road, through the convent gate. Across garden paths, via long tiled corridors, we eventually enter the heart of the Saint Joseph Chapel, the sacred space where the life of prayer of the Trappist monks of the abbey of Koningshoeven runs its course.

On the wooden floor, polished by generations of devout feet, lies a labyrinth of chamomile and bedstraw, picked by hand, carefully arranged in curving ledges and lines. The labyrinth symbolizes the road the pilgrim must travel. In medieval devotion it was an instrument of meditation and prayer. The distance to the centre seems short, but the path towards it is full of bends and turns. At one moment we may be close to the heart of the maze, then again we move away from it. Our eventual arrival is certain, if only we persevere. But we need this process of detours to strengthen our faith in our life’s goal and deepen our commitment. We do not get discouraged when we see that close to the end we are given yet another length to cover, but trust that this extra stretch will also bring us extra grace.

The fragrance of the herbs is strong and earthy – the scent of verges and fields in summertime. Yet the elusiveness of that scent is a symbol for the invisible that is absolutely, inescapably, present.

The location for this work is well chosen. The installation would not have worked as well in a business or museum environment. But here it enters into a dialogue with the surrounding Saint Joseph Chapel: travelling through the labyrinth, roaming through life, the pilgrims may know heaven close, their path part of a universe created and directed by God.

Psalm 121 wells up: ‘From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’

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Claudy Jongstra: Labyrinth of Herbs, 2012, chamomile and bedstraw. In 2012 this installation was part of the exhibition Pilgrimage in the Abbey Koningshoeven in Berkel-Enschot, the Netherlands. The exhibition consisted of works by Marc Mulders and Claudy Jongstra .

Claudy Jongstra (1963) is a Dutch artist, who creates tapestries and large-scale textile art installations. The beauty of nature, raw materials and the exploration of crafts such as spinning, carding and weaving constantly inspire and help Jongstra bring a sense of beauty and belonging to public spaces. She works together with architects and clients around the world to create unique and tactile pieces. Claudy Jongstra and her team maintain control over the whole process from raw materials to tapestries. Committed to the value chain of creation, they raise their own sheep, keep bees, cultivate a botanical garden and grow their own plants for dyes. They leave no waste, respect nature and exemplify their philosophical values of utilizing local resources and traditional skills.

Claudy Jongstra’s oeuvre is founded on ethical values. Her work and life are inspired by stewardship, the promotion of bio-diversity and the preservation of a natural and cultural heritage. She constantly explores how to create a softer, more human atmosphere. In 2011 Jongstra showed her pieces at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York and at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012. Her work is included in the collections of the Victoria & AlbertMuseum in London, theStedelijkMuseum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art New York. For more about her work, also for videos in which she tells about her holistic view of life (with English subtitles), seewww.claudyjongstra.com.

Wilma Wagenaar is a visual art teacher and an artist. She organizes painting retreats in monasteries in the Netherlands and Belgium and lectures about art and its relationship to developments in society. For more information see www.wilmawagenaar.nl and www.schilderretraite.nl.

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1. To read the article ‘Modernism is a Door to the Metaphysical’ by Professor Lord Harries of Pentregarth about the effects of radical changes of artistic style on art for a religious setting, seewww.artandsacredplaces.org/Comment.html.

ARTWAY: OPENING EYES, HEARTS AND MINDS

Labyrinth at the Marais Church

We created a wonderful 2 day labyrinth experience in a 16th century church near the Bastille in Paris. It was part of the Protestant church celebration known as Protestants en fête.

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A Sacred Journey

http://www.lessons4living.com/labyrinth.htm

“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”
Caroline Adams

We are all on the path… exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path.

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life’s journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to “That Which Is Within.”

Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.

A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.

A labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

“Making of” pictures from Amsterdam

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Easter Labyrinths in Amsterdam

Over the weekend I was invited to create a few labyrinths in Amsterdam. The first was Saturday in the chapel of the Oudezijds 100, a Christian community in the heart of the red light district

LabyrinthOudezijds100

Then on Sunday night we christened the new blue LED lights at the Museumplein between the Rijksmuseum and the Concertgebouw
labyrint

And again on Monday night we went to Westerpark and created a different design.
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In need of a labyrinth…

Don’t ya think that this grassy circle behind Les Invalides in Paris is in need of a guerrilla labyrinth? I do!