The symbolism of Doorways

Doorways are often used to represent transition, the passage between one place or state of being and the next. This might be childhood to adulthood, for instance; leaving one part of life behind, moving on to another; the threshold between one place and another. But 'Doorways' can symbolise so much more.

Doorways always represent a choice, a decision; the choice to stay or to go; of one path or another. The metaphor of a corridor of doors is often used to represent a multitude of choices. But before choice comes a decision - doorways often represent the act of making decisions itself, or the fear and inertia of indecision.

Doorways have been symbols of new life, of birth - of a doorway to the world. They have also however been symbols of death, of passing from this life to the next (or to whatever waits beyond the door), of others who are already there. They can be loaded with hope, of new opportunities, of new horizons, leaving the 'now' behind to a better 'next'. They can represent and escape, a way out (even to places of fantastical imagining). But they can also be loaded with fear, with worry and with uncertainty - we fear the unseen or the unknown. We cannot know what is beyond the door until we pass the threshold - just as the future is unknown to us.

An open door can represent welcome, invitation, encouragement. Locked doors can symbolise protection or privacy, keeping us safe 'inside' from the threat from 'outside'; doors were once daubed with an 'X' to symbolize the presence of plague. Or else they represent imprisonment, even entrapment, enclosure or control.

And if we are on the outside, closed doors offer little but cold comfort, even banishment. A lot depends on which side we're on - doors are locked to keep us in, or barred to keep us out. Looked doors can represent a lack of inclusion, of expulsion, the separation of 'us' from the 'other'. It all depends whether we are inside or outside.

Doorways represent exits, entrances, departures, arrivals. Lovers, friends, family moving out (or moving in). And always moving on; the act of transition - the act of anticipating, fearing, welcoming a change, from 'here' to 'there', from 'now' to 'next', from the known to the unknown. A threshold to somewhere new, or laced with fear, representing the unknown and the unseen?

Inspired? We'd love to see your artistic responses to the theme of 'Doorways'.

We welcome submissions approaching the theme from any viewpoint - literal, metaphorical, allegorical, abstract... and we welcome submissions in any media.

Remember, you can follow us @DoorwaysArt2018 on twitter, and keep and eye on this blog for more updates, ideas and inspiration.

To ask us a question, and to submit your work for Doorways for Fringe Arts Bath 2018 by the deadline of 20th March, email Check the FaB website for details of how to apply.

FaB CuratorDoorways