This past week we stayed at a wonderful house on the outskirts of London in an area called “Northwood.” It was a 15 minute walk to the light-rail/subway system affectionately called “the Tube”. The tube or London Underground as it is more formally known is a complex system of trains, subways and tunnels that snake back and forth across this massive city and its surrounding areas. You can get almost anywhere from the tube and a few minutes walk on either side, and you never really wait more than 5-10 minutes for a ride anywhere in the city. It is a remarkably efficient system for moving people, and it is used by millions everyday. When you are underground switching from one line to the next, going up or down several sets of stairs and escalators, in and out of tunnels plastered with advertisements on every open space, it can be an unnerving maze where you are desperate to find a way to recenter yourself.
Enter the Labyrinth Art Project…. As I described in a previous post, labyrinths are intended to help you to find the way to the center, there are no dead ends or chances of getting lost because the path always gets you only one place, to the center and back again. By contrast, mazes are designed to confuse and contort, to offer a path only to discover it is the wrong path and you stare at yet another dead end. In the midst of what seems like such a maze (the London Underground), the planners decided to commission an art project depicting dozens of different labyrinth patterns on the walls of the subway stations. Not a lot of explanation or fanfare accompany the images, just a labyrinth in black and white to offer hope, perhaps. I have been on a labyrinth hunt all over Europe finding them in hillsides and cathedrals, in artwork and public parks, but I never thought I would run into so many different labyrinths on the walls of London’s tube stations. Here are just a few of the images I saw over the course of a week. Truly an unexpected find from my muse, serendipity.