Labyrinths in Places

Labyrinths are found in many places. Some are permanent and some are brought in temporarily for events. The challenge for labyrinth enthusiasts is often how to get permission to introduce a labyrinth into a specific environment. This section of the website examines some of the places where labyrinths may be found, the benefits of having them there, how they are used, and how people were able to install them there in the first place!

3. Case Study 1: Paint, grass and planning

At the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus, during the summer vacation, we set up a temporary labyrinth on the edge of a University playing field, with a view of open countryside. We hand-painted this with surveyor’s paint on grass, with the permission of our Estates Department. This labyrinth was created for a one-off event as part of a conference, and had to be located close to the conference venue. (We hoped for good weather, as there was no nearby indoor room large enough as an alternative).

The process from beginning to end was along these lines:

  • Request from conference organisers to facilitator
  • Meeting of labyrinth facilitator team to discuss possibilities
  • Negotiating and agreeing exactly what was needed, and who would be responsible for what; agreeing budget
  • Finding a location: determining that no indoor room nearby was suitable, choosing an outdoor site, obtaining permission within the University to create a temporary labyrinth at that location
  • Obtaining support of Grounds maintenance team within Estates Department; obtaining the right sort of paint
  • Planning the event
  • Writing publicity
  • Planning the position, design and orientation of the labyrinth (towards the best view); creating the labyrinth
  • Organising gates to be unlocked, signs to be in place, posters etc in liaison with conference organisers
  • Facilitating the event
  • Evaluation of event.

This process involved a series of meetings with various combinations of Estates staff, labyrinth facilitators and event coordinators. We worked to build knowledge and understanding between all the interested parties of what the labyrinth is; how it can be used and maintained in these circumstances; and what permission is required, from whom, and when.

Though we had planned only one event, the painted labyrinth has been used for two more events this summer, as well as by individual walkers. The grounds maintenance team have agreed to top up the pattern throughout the summer to keep it accessible.

What would we do differently, next time?

  • Get a stack of plastic chairs for those who need a seat
  • Stock up on lawn-marking paint (we ran out early on, and had to find more in a hurry)
  • Borrow a temporary marquee (for facilitators out in the sun or rain all afternoon)
  • Be more definite – and relaxed – about the fact that there really is no indoor back-up plan (no space!) so the event might be rained off; and that’s acceptable, with an uncertain climate and an event clearly advertised as outdoors.