Global Burrows Project

Save havens through felt

My art is monumental, rough, and autonomous.  As a visual artist I am interested in land and installation art. The main medium I work in is felt. My preferred materials are rough and raw fleeces, but I also incorporate metal, wood and other materials in my work.

I make things that you can wear or use. It’s stubborn stuff, one-off pieces. And I teach felt and design workshops and master classes. I am also the co-founder of the worldwide FeltUnited project, which connects felt makers across the world to make extraordinary pieces of handmade textile art for one special day of the year.

My most recent work is what I call the Global Burrows Project and that addresses much of what my work symbolizes: care, safety, protection and comfort. It’s about safe havens. In today’s world there’s so much going on that many people find it frightening, fast and confusing. We live in an age that everyday life can get very scary and where distrust is rampant among our neighbors and colleagues.

To stay afloat and to move forward, many of us search for a source to achieve an inner peace that will help us cope with the daily pressures and to revitalize our energy. There are individuals who have found that special sanctum whether it’s in deep meditative silence, music, food, or reading the morning newspaper before the start of their busy day, sleeping, churches or other houses of worship, sanctuaries, or even while they shop. Wherever that activity or special place might the Global Burrows project makes that safe haven visible. These burrows are images of resting places where one can feel safe, nourished, and reenergized.

The Global Burrows is a two year working project and it started to take shape after several months of thought and visualization. After numerous sketches of what I envisioned the Burrows to be, I started to make the first ones in places that were familiar and where I found comfort--on the beach and in the woods. Each burrow is built with different materials like sand, sticks, stones, pieces of wood, and even garbage, and they are built for different circumstances. What each of these shapes share is that they are filled with rough wool felt, which I make and hand-dye. 

The goal during these next two years is to make these burrows all over the world--in different places and settings, with different materials and people. And these shapes do need people. The Global Burrows project story will unfold as we meet people who will help us build the burrows from start to finish. Currently I’m working on getting permissions to build them on construction sites, school grounds, public areas, galleries. I have now planned on building pieces in a forest in Sweden and hope to find a possible venues in Ireland for this coming May and when I go to teach felt in Michigan in September.

Ultimately what will be left over from the project will be the photographs taken of each burrow. But for me, and maybe for others who become involved in the work, the Global Burrow is about the path the project will follow and how the pieces and I react to the different sites, places, the different ‘building’ materials, interacting with people from countries across the globe, and learning about their own unique perspectives about the project.

To learn more about Elise Vermuelen, please visit her blog: http://elisvermeulen.wordpress.com/ and her website: http://www.elisv.nl/. If you are interested in the Global Burrows Project and its future plans, please visit: http://globalburrows.wordpress.com.

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