Monday, October 22, 2012

Labyrinth Renewal! Colorful Opportunities for Those Who Volunteer!

First off, I have to show a special thanks to all the volunteers that have shown up this last week to work on Loyola's Medieval Labyrinth! I have to thank the people who showed up today - Bobby, Punam, my sister, Eloise, and grad students Michael and Karen, as well as Dr. Gross Diaz - for putting in as much as six hours (!) painting the labyrinth today. I think the work speaks for itself.

This week saw the first major effort at repainting the labyrinth, with stunning results. Most of the labyrinth's yellow paths have been touched up and restored, and several formal illuminations have been restored as well, or are in the process of being restored. Some entirely new animals have taken up new homes in the labyrinth, adding a distinctive look and feel to the composition.
A vibrant scene of Barnacle-Geese as envisioned by Eloise.

What a matter! My poor fishy fares poorly against such magnificent displays of artistic prowess!

A stunning Celtic-style Elk made by Loyola History Graduate student, Karen. Fantastic!
I like thinking that because of the touch-ups necessary over the years, the labyrinth becomes a living, breathing structure - every generation of Loyola students will have their own vision for the labyrinth, and add their own animals accordingly. I myself really love exotic-looking fish and marine wildlife, so that is what I'm focusing on, but the wide array of styles on display make for a great discussion piece in and of itself.

Before Restoration.

Now he looks like he is about to splash out of the concrete.

Beautifully restored by freshman Punam.

Dr. Gross-Diaz painstakingly restored the gorgeous background, and the griffon, too!

Michael was one of the original labyrinth painters, and his bagpipe-playing cat was a  crowd favorite. Fortune would have him stop by to volunteer and restore his original piece!
Dr. Gross-Diaz provided some wonderful links to medieval bestiaries. If you would like to see some beautiful medieval depictions of nature, these two places have you covered:
The Aberdeen Bestiary
The Medieval Bestiary Project

Some images taken from them:
Sawfish were fish that loved to race against ships using their wings. 

They said no man could catch the antelope. One man set out to prove them wrong. Dead wrong.

Beautiful illuminated initial containing a delightful bunch of ducks. I love the added detail of the differing colors. 

The noble heron, wisest of all birds.

There is still time to get involved, if you contact Dr. Gross-Diaz at, or me at We still have spaces that need restoration, as well as spots that need all-new animals, on top of working on the border encircling the winding paths of the labyrinth. Those who are interested, want some hands-on medieval action, or are just looking for some plain ol' fun, contact us!

Strabo's Hortulus will be posted tomorrow, if only to give some breathing-room for this labyrinth-specific post. Sorry for the delay, garden-lovers!

A thing to ponder on, though:

I have been reading more and more that gardens were used not only as utilitarian means of food production, but medieval people genuinely took pleasure and delight in gardens. Anyone who has visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens would definitely know the same feeling. I believe this applies to our own lakeshore garden and labyrinth as well. While seemingly invisible to the students on campus, I think the garden's presence does more than a mere grassy knoll could do, and adds a splash of beauty to lakeshore life. Often, city life is dominated by grays and concretes, so being surrounded by a colorful and vibrant backdrop is therapeutic, I feel.

Here's hoping that my readers will get the chance to come over to the Crown Center and see this little bit of "Paradise" for yourselves!

-Charles Heinrich

1 comment:

  1. I agree! This garden doesn't just enhance your plate,it gives my heart a chance to absorb all the energy your team has been putting into it. It's beautiful!