Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Art and Architecture: Trinity Square Park and the Labyrinth

Trinity Square is a public square nestled in the area just beyond Bay Street to the east of City Hall and just south of Dundas Street.  It is an oasis preserving the wonderful architecture of the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity in the small area between a Marriott hotel, a (Hydro One, Fidelity Investment and CIBC) office building and the Toronto Eaton Centre.

I wrote a bit about Trinity Square when I blogged about the church when I visited during the Doors Open Weekend last year.   Go here if you want to catch up with that blog and the splendid architecture of the Church.

Aside from the church, there are quite a few features of interest in the square.  I don't have space in this blog for it all, so I will focus on the area containing the fountain and the small "river" of running water on the west side of and to the south the 3 arches and labyrinth.  There are a couple of other art installations and maybe they will be subject of a future blog.  I quite enjoy Trinity Square as this space seems to be such a varied feast for the eyes and psyche - all in this small courtyard.

The Fountain and Taddle Creek  
The fountain pours out of a spout on a wall adjoining the Bell Building.  The water flows onto a rock lined raceway which curves around and heads out toward Bay Street.  I understand that it is (at least in a symbolic way) retracing a small part of Taddle Creek, which is one of the City's buried waterways.   See more about Taddle Creek here at the Toronto Lost Rivers Website.

At risk of digressing, this site is well worth visiting:
The Toronto Green Community started LOST RIVER WALKS to help us discover the fascinating world of the watershed beneath our feet. This site is the start of a field book on the lost streams of Toronto. Bits of our city's history, both natural and built, are included. Those interested can take a virtual lost creeks walk, or better, use the information to take a self guided tour. Come explore nature hidden under our city and along its ravines and byways.

A Place for Weddings
The space is nicely lined with trees and a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by.  The day I took these pictures it was anything but calm.  I lucked out and was able to observe an South Asian wedding in progress!  It was very interesting as the groom arrived on an elegantly liveried white horse (I guess no elephants were to be had).   The two family group was each facing off on either sides of the walkway and as the ceremony progressed and the couple were wed, the two families joined together into one big happy dancing crowd. It was Bollywood in Trinity Square that day!
The 3 Arches

The Arches mark out a pathway to the Labyrinth.  I am guessing from looking at the stone and construction of the 3 arches, placed in the centre of the square separating the labyrinth from the rest of the courtyard, that they are remnants of the Church building site, perhaps repositioned here when the Eaton's Centre was constructed.  I couldn't find any reference to them on the web, but perhaps someone who trips by these pages might know - care to leave a comment?

The Toronto Labyrinth
 So what is the big deal about a labyrinth?  Until I came across the one at Trinity Square I had thought that one would not come across a labyrinth unless one was in a dungeon in medieval England.  I had thought that that it was built like a maze,  so whoever was placed within it stayed put.  But no.  This labyrinth has no walls, so no danger of
getting lost in this one.

What then is the point?  I went on a wiki search and discovered that there is a distinction between the two: a maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center.  Therefore one might get lost in a "corn maze" but one should not get lost in a labyrinth.   I guess if you aren't to get lost there is no need of walls.  But what then is the point? 

From Wiki:

Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Labyrinths are used by modern mystics to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind. The Labyrinth Society provides a locator for modern labyrinths all over the world.
And yes, we have a Labyrinth Society in Toronto.

The Labyrinth Community Network (LCN) is a group of volunteers who value the experience of walking or tracing a labyrinth. This is what they had to say about Toronto's Public Labyrinth:

In our modern, often chaotic culture and times the opportunity to step into an oasis of calm is rare. Labyrinths provide such an opportunity. Toronto Public Labyrinth is situated in the heart of Toronto’s bustling metropolis.  ... Modern-day uses are many. In hospitals, labyrinths are walked by staff, recovering patients and their visitors to relieve stress and aid in rehabilitation. Community groups and retreat centres use labyrinths for meditation, reflection, and exercise. School labyrinths can serve as an activity zone for students. They can stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving, and act as a tool for conflict resolution. The labyrinth remains a metaphor for the individual's journey through life.
 Nice to know that the Labyrinth is always open and the park is lighted in the evenings, ready to provide a calm port whenever we Torontonians need it.

I walked the path and as I started the journey I had a question in mind.  Food for thought while I walked.  It was pleasant to "walk within the lines" while I contemplated my question. I wonder if I could put a labyrinth in my living room?  hmmm.

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