'Burl; Diamond of The Forest'

'Burl; Diamond of The Forest' uses burl-wood as a queer allegory. Noting both as beautiful and complex phenomenon produced by the confines of uniformity.

Etymologically deriving from Middle English ‘burle’ meaning ‘a knot or flaw in cloth’, from the Old French ‘bourre’- ‘flocks or ends of threads which disfigure cloth’.

As a burl grows, it incorporates the trees underdeveloped buds that surround it and folds them into its expanding form, most commonly a result of some sort of stress or injury. Inside these complex twists and knots we can discover an abundant labyrinth of suppressed and complicated pasts; buds of lost life and countless potential, enclosed by constraints of regularity and uniformity. Burls cannot be removed, once cut, they will simply regrow; an integral part of any living body. Not something to resist and remove. To chastise and incarcerate. Not a malignant tumour with the intent of conquering natures life. But an essence of the whole that will always be.

Craftspeople in the 1970’s begun to reclaim burl wood for its aesthetic allure, often using it to veneer extravagant automobiles with prized interiors. Serendipitously aligning with moments of queer liberation, the presence of this materiality represents a moment in time. Following this movement, timber producers ceased their attempts to industrially cull and regulate burls from tree growth. 

“People will be themselves when you stop punishing them for it.” -(@mattxiv)

Steve Eason’s photograph ‘Changing the Guard’ depicts a transvestite having her picture taken with a member of the Household Cavalry at Buckingham Palace during Lesbian and Gay Pride, London, 24th June 1995. The image presents a rich dichotomy between the two costumes of equal flamboyancy each with distinctly different social mores. One figure strikingly queer in the context of the ordinary, yet exposing the equal extravagance laying on both sides of the customary. One in common uniform and the other twisted and unconformed.

Let these burls, the kernels of our complex pasts, be our dobby sock. This crusty stained textile sheath allows us our key to freedom. Passed to us by our forefathers. Our holding it represents the untouchable necessity to hold onto our pasts, carrying it with us into our futures. Crusty socks and twisted grain; once silenced and erased, now freed and unrestrained.

Thankful for those interlopers that forcefully reached between paradigms, chastising our oppression to enable our complex presence as innate, usual and unavoidable. Let nature continue to grow in all its queer shapes and burly protrusions. A kink in the cloth.

‘To be remembered by those left behind is to be rememebered forever’

-Quote from an unidentified panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt

"For young kids to be able to say, 'Cool, I’ll watch Glee tonight and then go to a gay bar’ – that is an incredible gift that’s been handed down. But we must pay respect and remember where that gift came from.”

-Russel Tovey

Dobby sock in hand.

Concrete, Ceramic, Glaze, Tiles, Resin, Burl Wood, Steel, Copper, Pigment, Blown Plastic, Light Fixture


made possible by Stimuleeringsfonds

‘Changing the Guard’, Steve Eason.