ArtsTalk Blog - Tree of Life Labyrinth

Back in June SSAC member, Denis Bolohan, was busy creating his art of outdoor labyrinths in celebration of the Bicentennial of the Town of Innisfil. We thought we'd share this great insight into why he is drawn to this artform and how he approached this exciting project

By Denis Bolohan

I have been creating sculptures, installations and site-specific land works for over 30 years. Much of my work has been ephemeral in nature—snow sculptures, fire sculptures, crop and grass labyrinths that are allowed to grow out and return to the landscape. I grew up and still live in a rural community: the land and our natural surroundings are never far from my thoughts and are major influences in both my daily life and my artwork.

I have been interested in labyrinths as outdoor, shared experiences in and of the landscape since 1999, when I executed my first crop labyrinth on my farm in Essex County. My purpose in creating this initial labyrinth was to recreate the experience of my interior art installations within the local farming environment. Labyrinths within the landscape became for me a form of exterior installation: those walking the labyrinth were moving through an ever-changing, living work of art, and the work was completed only with the participation of those travelling through it.

Tree of Life Labyrinth
When first approached about creating a labyrinth for the Bicentennial of the Town of Innisfil, I was reminded of the settlers' Irish roots. With this in mind I began looking at Celtic designs, which with their interlace patterns lend themselves to meandering paths suitable for a labyrinth. Further research led me to the Tree of Life: the current labyrinth creates the Tree using patterns based on Celtic design for the pathways.
The Celtic Tree of Life is a symbol of balance and harmony in the natural world: its roots grow far down into the earth while its branches reach upwards into the sky. The trunk connects both of these worlds. The Tree of Life also represents rebirth, losing its leaves during the fall season, hibernating throughout the winter, and coming to life again in the spring to bear fruit in the summer.
Walking the Tree of Life Labyrinth, you begin at the roots, meander to the upper crown, then continue walking through both the roots and crown, alternating to finish at the heart of the trunk, where you start your journey back to the beginning.

Walking the Labyrinth
The labyrinth is a living work of art.
Please respect the meditative and spiritual aspects of its form and walk quietly, being careful to stay on the path so as not to step on the surrounding grass. This labyrinth has a single entrance/exit—when meeting another on the path, gently "step aside" to allow them to pass.

The Labyrinth was funded through the Community Anniversaries – Building Communities through Arts and Heritage grant from the Government of Canada. It will be open to the public until September 22, 2021. For details visit: www.innisfilidealab.ca/tree-of-life-labyrinth

Read & view more about this unique art installation in the news:

Innisfil Today, 22 June 2021:
www.innisfiltoday.ca/local-news/living-labyrinth-expresses-innisfils-celtic-roots-3888097

Cookstown IdeaLab & Library:
www.innisfilidealab.ca/tree-of-life-labyrinth

Barrie360, 22 June 2021:
barrie360.com/innisfil-marks-grand-opening-of-tree-of-life-labyrinth-beside-cookstown-library

CTV News, Barrie, 25 June 2021:
barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=2229406

Simcoe.com, 23 June 2021:
www.simcoe.com/community-story/10421594-town-of-innisfil-opens-new-cookstown-labyrinth


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