This place doesn't exist, and yet it does. There is no spot that is exactly this, in any forest that I have walked in, although its elements, it's ambience, are distinctly coastal British Columbia. While I've never physically set foot in this place that doesn't exist, I have been here almost daily for months. I know it intimately.
When I create, WHAT I create becomes as real and tangible as the physical world. In some ways, more so. I've explored every inch of this woodland spot, felt the laser beam heat of the sun on my skin as it knifes through the branches. I can smell it's tart greenness, feel the smooth wood of the door and rough granite of the boulders beneath my fingertips. I've felt the cold puddling water seeping into my sneakers. I've heard the deep intermittent cruck of the raven resting on his perch and caught the wink of sun on the key dangling from his beak. I've turned my gaze skyward to the bright patches of blue peeking through the holes in the evergreen canopy. Occasionally a breeze sets the leafed and needled branches bobbing gently. There is a hushed sense of anticipation. No one ventures here but me - and now you!
“Portal” is the first image in the Labyrinthos series. It's the invitation, the beckoning to open the door, and step into the story; to traverse the path that circles upon itself and leads ultimately to your center. It was a difficult image to get going - in a sense mirroring the hesitation to unlock the door and step into the unknown. I waffled back and forth on whether to paint it first or come back to it later. It started as a much tighter crop of a door surrounded by roots and greenery - hidden, potentially inaccessible, slightly foreboding - but it lacked a sense of place, nothing to anchor it to, nothing to suggest where it might be found if someone was compelled to look. But once the work began – because beginning is really the most important step in the whole process - slowly, just like a real forest, it seeded itself in my imagination and grew, spreading further out, claiming new territory; new plants popping up with each passing day; a wet Spring leaving pools of water along the path; a few brave flowers poking up through the understory.
Portals exist everywhere. Some are sought out, others, stumbled upon. They have an element of excitement and mystery about them, and if they're worth exploring, a big dollop of fear as well. All change begins when we say yes to the invitation to unlock the door of the place we haven't yet been, to step beyond the threshold of the known and move forward without a map, and without assurances that the destination we're headed towards is the one we've imagined for ourselves.
If you dare … if you have the fortitude to unlock the door to the labyrinth, to step inside, to put what you think you know behind you … to accept the ragged, jagged and jarring truth, you cannot return unchanged. Your worst nightmares, and ultimately your bliss, exist within the twists and turns of the beautiful labyrinth of the unconscious. They're waiting for you to claim them and bring them into the light.