- Randoll Coate
Gilbert Randoll Coate (
8 October 1909– 2 December 2005) was a British diplomat, mazedesigner and "labyrinthologist".
The son of Charles Philip Coate, an
expatriatebusinessman, Randoll Coate was born in Lausanne, Switzerland. After studying at the Collège de Lausannehe won a scholarship to Oriel College, Oxford, reading French and German. In 1940 he was commissioned into the Intelligence Corps, using his language abilities to interrogate prisoners of warin the "London Cage". He also took part in Operation Archery, a commandoraid on port Vågsøy, Norwayand helped support Greek resistance fighters in liberating Kalamata.
After the war, Coate joined the UK
Foreign Officewith diplomatic postings to Salonika, Oslo, Leopoldville, Rome, The Hague, Buenos Aires, Stockholmand finally Brusselsat which point he took early retirement in 1967.
Having had a long-standing interest in art and history, Coate took to designing
mazes and completed over 50 new mazes in Britain and around the world. Coate's maze designs are particularly noted for their symbolism. Although it is rarely possible to see a large maze in plan view, Coate's designs would often incorporate hidden shapes and references of significance to the clients who had commissioned the maze.
Coate's first maze commission, "The Imprint of Man", was completed in 1975 for a private garden in
Gloucestershire. The overall outline was of a giant footprint 57 m long by 29 m wide — a size calculated to match the size of a 300-m tall person, matching the height of the Eiffel Tower. The hedge maze, constructed from 3,000 yew bushes, ended up too large for its intended field. Coate's solution was to extend the maze into the adjacent river, creating an artificial islandfor the second toe. The intricate design incorporated 132 symbols, including numbers, signs of the zodiac and animals, birds and fishes.Some of his other notable mazes include;
*"Pyramid" (1977) — yew hedge maze in the form of a
pyramidat the Château de Belœil, Belgium, in which the height of the hedges increases to reach 6 m at the centre
*"Creation" (1979) — yew hedge maze at
Värmlands Säby, Sweden, for the Baroness of Falkenberg, with overlapping layers of symbolism. Seen one way, the egg-shaped outline represents the Garden of Edenincorporating figures for Adam, Eve, the Serpent and the apple. Seen another way, the hedge outlines form the shape of the horned Minotaurof the original Minoan labyrinth.
In 1979, Coate was introduced to
Adrian Fisher, another enthusiastic maze designer. Shortly afterwards Coate and Fisher formed the maze design company Minotaur Designsand designed 15 mazes together between 1979 and 1989, (some with the landscape architect Graham Burgessin 1983 and 1984). These included:
*"Archbishop's Maze" (1980) — a brick path and
turf mazeat Greys Court, England, incorporating Christiansymbolism to commemorate the maze metaphor that Robert Runciementioned in his enthronement address on becoming Archbishop of Canterbury
*"Beatles Maze" (1984) — brick path and water-channel maze at the first
National Garden Festival, Liverpool, England, featuring an 18-ton, 15.5-m long sculpture of a yellow submarine at its centre, and with an outline in the shape of an apple, in reference to The Beatles' Apple Corps record label
*"Bath Festival Maze" (1984) — a stone path in Beazer Gardens near the
Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England, celebrating the city of Bath with motifs based on Georgian fanlights, arches from Isambard Kingdom Brunel's railway and a Roman-inspired mosaiccircle at its centre
*"Marlborough Maze" (1988) — a yew hedge maze at
Blenheim Palacefor the Duke of Marlboroughand based on a stone carving by Grinling Gibbonsrepresenting the "Panoply of Victory", with a symbolism based on cannons, banners and trumpets.
*"Sun Maze" and "Lunar Labyrinth" (1996) —
Longleat, near Bath, England, for the Marquess of Bath(who has another four mazes in the grounds of the house)
*"Lappa Valley Railway Maze" — yew hedge at the
Lappa Valley Steam Railway, Cornwall, England, shaped like an early steam locomotive
*"El laberinto de Borges" (Borges Memorial Maze) —
San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina, box hedge maze, measuring 95 m by 65 m, in memory of the writer Jorge Luis Borges(a personal friend of Coate's), inspired by his short story "El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan" (English: "The Garden of Forking Paths"). Shaped like an open book, the design incorporates, in Braille, a quotation from the blind writer, that a book and a labyrinth are "one and the same".
*"Alice in Wonderland Maze" 1991, Dorset
*"Ziggurat Maze" Moray, Scotland
*" Ariel Maze" Jersey
*"Pommerie Maze" Shropshire
In 1955, Coate married the painter,
Pamela Dugdale Moore, with whom he raised two daughters. He was also made a Chevalier of the Ordre de Léopoldin 1965 and appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order(MVO) in 1966.
He died in
Le Rouret, near Grasse, France on the 2 December 2005, aged 96.
*Coate, R; "Mont Athos, la Sainte Montagne" (Arthaud, 1949)
*Fisher, Coate and Burgess; "A Celebration of Mazes" (1984) ISBN 0-948265-85-X.
Adrian Fisher, " The Independent", 14 January 2006, p43.
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1990469,00.html Obituary in "The Times"] , retrieved 6 February 2006.
* [http://www.arts.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/15/db1502.xml Obituary in "The Telegraph"] , retrieved 4 February 2006.
* [http://viatraveldesign.com/archive/50404A46C6D2D23A/ viatraveldesign] , retrieved
4 February 2006.
* [http://www.severnwriter.com/mazesbyminotaur.htm Mazes by Minotaur] article,retrieved
4 February 2006.
* [http://www.internetaleph.com/detail/showdetail.asp?pagerelid=475&langid=en Borges labyrinth] , retrieved
6 February 2006.
* [http://www.revistanueva.com.ar/00697/nota02/index.htm Borges labyrinth, with picture] sp icon
*Adrian Fisher & Georg Gerster; "The Art of the Maze", Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1990) ISBN 0-297-83027-9
*Jeff Saward; "Magical Paths", Mitchell Beazley (2002) ISBN 1-84000-573-4
* [http://www.mazemaker.com/projects.htm Mazemaker.com] — The website of Adrian Fisher's current maze design company incorporates a portfolio of past projects, including photographs and descriptions of mazes created in partnership with Coate
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