Furillen: a brief retrospective

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Furillen is a year old. It was ‘opened’ via an announcement in Flickr on 13 October 2015. In truth, I expected very little, and for a week or two that’s exactly what I got. Then, for one reason or another, the sim took off, and it has become a well-respected and much-liked spot on the grid.

The sim has always moved on – most particularly, with the addition of buildings that replicate what exists on the real Furillen, an island on Gotland, northeast Sweden. The basic shape of the sim is still defined by the pier, everything flows back from there – and by the slag heaps on one side, and the lake on the other.

Furillen became quite a social space, and at various times a community of sorts has existed there – and still does. It is, especially, a place for photographers, with over 7500 pictures – many of them quite brilliant – posted in the Flickr stream. I have also staged events over the past year, most memorably those devoted to Bowie, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. There is also the music stream, and this blog, which take time – and money – to maintain.

Running Furillen has been a strange experience, because increasingly the sim has come to feel like ‘public property’, even though in financial terms it is not. I can’t – and won’t – simply transform the sim on a whim, as I might if it was an entirely private space. When the sim closed for a few weeks in the summer, I was inundated with (mostly very kind) requests to re-open it. So the sim sits somewhere awkwardly between a public and private space, and when I ask for donations, it is with this strange hybrid status in mind. It kind of belongs to everyone. Having said this, Furillen has a very personal meaning to me, which I have never discussed publicly – and never will.

Of course, the sim will close eventually, and in many ways I would be very relieved if it did. But when I asked for donations yesterday, the overwhelming response made it clear to me – to everyone – that this moment hasn’t yet arrived.

Furillen is many things to many people, as your many thousands of pictures testify. Thank you, all of you, who have made your pictures at the sim, and said such kind – and sometimes very moving – things about what it means to you.

And thank you Furillen – the real place – for being such an inspiration.