The Centennial Park in Sydney’s Labyrinth project has been identified in the Centennial Park Master Plan 2040. It is now being delivered by Centennial Parklands with funding support from the community. On Wednesday 5 February, 2014, a Silver Spade sod-turning celebration symbolised the commencement of construction of the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth’s founding benefactor, Emily Simpson, who worked tirelessly and actively with the Centennial Parklands Foundation to raise over $500,000 to fund this unique structure, was on hand to turn the first piece of earth with Sarah Whyte, Foundation Chair, and Kim Ellis, A/Executive Director, Sydney Parklands and Gardens. The team from the ABC’s Compass program filmed the event as part of the documentary they are making following the whole construction process of the Labyrinth.
A labyrinth comes from ancient traditions, physically used as a contemplative tool for reflection or meditation in many cultures throughout history. Unlike a maze, which has several different pathways, a labyrinth has only a single path and there are no dead ends. The Centennial Park labyrinth will be an 11 circuit sandstone labyrinth, based on the design of the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France, which dates from the early 13th century.
To maximize its safety and durability, the Labyrinth will be built with the highest quality materials including two contrasting coloured Australian stones. Over 1,500 individual pieces of stone will require perfect alignment for its construction to be successful.
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find strength to take the next step. Many use it during times of grief and loss and others, just for fun.
The labyrinth is a spiritual pathway that involves some three stages for meditation – the ‘inward’ journey: conventionally been associated with letting go or releasing things which hinder the self – the centre: represents a space of centring and illumination and, the ‘outward’ journey: symbolises a return back into the world. Interestingly the last painting Australian artist Frank ‘Jeffrey’ Edson Smart AO (1921-2013) rendered was called ‘labyrinth’. It is also a brilliant visual metaphor for any creative person’s life.