SHORE/LINES: The Centre of the World

Art installation by Bill Vazan
photo by André Beneteau

The Centre of the World (Omphalos - The Navel of the Earth) by Bill Vazan

Sunnidale Park, June 2003

In the summer of 2003, some strange precision sod cuts appeared in an open area of Sunnidale Park near our home. Barely large enough to walk in, and about 6 cm deep, these strange pathways swept in large arcs, creating a strange maze.

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While we had immediate fun running around on these paths, I soon guessed that this must be some sort of art installation. In fact, it was one of twelve temporary art installations in the MacLaren Art Centre's "SHORE/LINES" exhibition. Eventually we would witness this piece of art -- titled The Centre of the World -- set ablaze before an appreciative crowd of onlookers.

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This was the first exhibit we came across, as you read in the introduction. The pattern had been completely cut, but it was not yet filled with the bark chips that would later be set on fire. Later, we would all come down in the evening to witness the big burn, along with dozens of other people. It was quite an event!

This turf-cutting (from an on-going "worldwork" series) has two reference: One to Ancient Delphi in Greece, which was considered by all groups as the Centre of the Earth. Prophecies were sought from the Oracle there. Her wild utterings came from an ecstatic trance induced by breathing in the vapours emanating from the ground fissures (the more famous seekers were King Croesus and Oedipus). The second refers to the all too frequent human frailty to take ourselves too seriously as centres of the world (se prendre pour le nombril du monde). Yet, we do create our own and first worlds.

- Bill Vazan
Shore/lines: responding to place / William Moore [et al.]
Catalogue of an outdoor environmental sculpture exhibition,
held May 1 - Oct. 30, 2003 at 12 sites around Barrie, Ont.
ISBN 0-9693555-6-4

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