Reflecting on Labyrinths - marymattinglystudio

Living Labyrinth as Sculpture

food forest labyrinth, contemplative land art, ecological art, land art

Over the past five years, my work has taken me on a path of designing and building labyrinths: spaces for ritual and contemplation. From traditional designs steeped in history to a labyrinth sculpture blending symbolism with functionality, each project has been unique. However, it's in a recent commission – a food forest labyrinth in a sculpture park – where I've found convergence in this work.

Combining a drive to cultivate sustainable foodways with the important symbolism of the labyrinth, a food forest labyrinth is a living and breathing reflection of connections: to ecologies, one another, and to the currents of human histories.

At first glance, a food forest labyrinth resonates as a maze of greenery, with winding paths leading travelers through berries and fruit trees. Yet, upon closer inspection, its ritual significance becomes apparent. 

The labyrinth itself has a rich history, dating back thousands of years and spanning numerous cultures. It has been used as a tool for meditation, a symbol of spiritual pilgrimage, a part of myth-making, and a metaphor for life. By integrating this symbol into a landscape designed in a sculpture park for food, people engage in a multifaceted experience that encompasses physical sustenance, mental stimulation, and spiritual contemplation.

Walking the paths of a food forest labyrinth scupture becomes a full practice; the labyrinth asks people to navigate its pathways with intention and awareness. It reminds me that I'm a steward and a learner. As I harvest fruits and herbs along the way, I can be nourished not only by the food I gather but also by the deeper connections I forge with my body and its extensions. 

The act of tending to a food forest labyrinth becomes a ritual of care. By participating in the ongoing maintenance of these spaces, caretakers make the cycle of life, contributing to the regeneration of ecosystems and biodiversity conservation.

As I reflect on the past five years of getting to design and build labyrinths, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to create spaces that nourish me and others. Moving forward, I am excited to continue exploring the intersection of food production, symbolism, and spirituality, knowing that labyrinths holds the potential to inspire deeper connections and transformations. In a world where disconnect and dissonance often prevail, food forest labyrinths offer me a sanctuary for reconnection and reflection, and I've been privileged to build them for others. Have you ever considered designing one for your space? 

food forest labyrinth, land art, eco art, living sculpture

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