Farewell to Lairig Leacach

Lairig Leacach opened exactly two weeks ago. Having labelled it my ‘holiday sim’ – a sort of Christmas gift to SL’s travellers and photographers – I said that it would be ‘gone in a flash’. True to my word, I will close it later today.

I throughly enjoyed this sim – thanks to everyone who visited and took pictures, left comments in the guestbook, and wrote reviews. I’d also like to thank – again – Harry Cover (aka ‘Impossibleisnotfrench’) for meshing the Lairig bothy so accurately and quickly. (Harry has kindly made something else for me, which will make its appearance inworld sometime in the new year …)

Lairig was partly designed for photographers, and, as ever, I was fascinated and delighted to see what you came up with. Here are some highlights from the 250 or so pictures that have been posted to the sim’s flickr group in the past fourteen days …

blottie dans la forêt

Lairig Leacach

Saor-làithean sona (Happy Holidays)

Lairig Leacach II

A respite appears...

Lairig Leacach ...

Lairig Leacach

wandering_world749

https://www.flickr.com/photos/140105578@N02/49222930342/in/pool-lairig_leacach/

Cabin In The Woods

Lairig Leacach_04

Forest

There are two seasons in Scotland June and Winter

Trees

Cabin In The Woods

winter song...

Deep

A cold winter's day

... et soudain ils apparurent

Oiseau Lune.

Into The Woods

wandering_world751

home

BURDOCK ROOT

First Light

wandering_world753

Snow Day

Day 041

Lairig Leacach

like a  dream...

The Road not Taken

Lairig Leacach [1]

“Snowing is an attempt to make the dirty world look clean”

Blinded By the Light

Craving Serenity

Christmas Greetings

Forest for the Trees.

Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time, Katrina Mayer.

Christmas night.....waiting for you

Nocturnes

Tor of Ironhall - 4

Cold Morning

wandering_world760

Renards joueurs

 

Lairig Leacach

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Lairig Leacach is a spectacular location at the foot of Stob Ban in the Central Scottish Highlands. It is the home to a tiny bothy, which is the centrepiece of my ‘vacation’ sim, which opens today for a short time. The landmark is here.

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A bothy – also called a byre, or cowshed – is a refuge, a place to rest tired feet or sleep, sheltered from the wind, rain and snow. Although by no means unique to Scotland, bothies are very characteristic of the Highlands. Unlike the ‘refuge’ or ‘refugio’ that is typical of the Alps, bothies are unstaffed, contain no supplies or proper bedding. A bothy is usually just a simple hut – often a converted farm building. It is maintained only through the care and diligence of those who use them, and the goodwill of a network of volunteers making up the Mountain Bothies Association.

Bothies exist mainly for hikers who need shelter – perhaps for the night, or just for an hour or two while a storm blows over. For a long time there was no official list of bothies and their locations, perhaps with the intention to avoid the kinds of guest who are only interested in working their way down such a list in order to ‘bag’ as many as possible. A book containing such a list – The Scottish Bothy Bible – does now exist. Its author was subject to some criticism for breaching this unwritten rule that bothy locations should be discovered only by accident: when in need, or passed on by word of mouth between trusted hikers.

Lairig Leacach is an especially small and primitive example of a Scottish bothy, The location is as stunning is it is remote – it is a ‘good walk from anywhere’, as the guide books say. I was struck by the wildness of the place, and especially the contrast between the big hills surrounding it. The difference in scale is breathtaking …

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The bothy itself consists of a single room containing an old bunkbed and not much else. And yet, on a freezing cold night, how welcome must such a place be to the walker who is lost or exhausted.

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Although Lairig Leacach – the name means the ‘pass of the flagstones’ – is a bleak and desolate place today, like much of the Scottish Highlands it would have once been quite densely forested, indeed there is still quite a large forest close by. In the spirit of those who campaign for the reforestation (or rewilding – see also here) of the Scottish Highlands – and to make the sim a bit more varied and interesting for visitors to wander around – I thought I would try to capture some of this spirit with a sim design that takes quite a few liberties with trees. The outcome, to my eyes and ears at least, is a place that feels much more alluring, almost mystical …

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Amidst this great landscape stands the bothy itself, and I am very grateful to Harry – whose SL name is Impossibleisnotfrench, you can visit his inworld store here – for generously (and quickly!) meshing an uncannily accurate version of the Lairig Leacach Bothy especially for this sim.

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The spirit of bothying – to provide shelter for all – captures what Christmas means for me. I hope the sim provides something of a haven for its visitors – and photographers – over the next few days. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it will be gone in a flash …

Happy holidays to all,

Serene Footman 🙏

Composition of Furillen – an exhibition of pictures by nekonuko Nakamori

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A new exhibition of pictures by nekonuko Nakamori opens at Furillen today. Neko has earned some renown for her superb series of “Wandering World” images, taken during Neko’s meanderings across the grid. All in square format, Neko’s pictures are unmistakable for their deft combination of formal elegance, unusual perspective and beautiful attention to tone and colour. I honestly do not think that I have seen a picture by Neko that I haven’t felt absorbed by.

Despite being one of the grid’s perennial wanderers, Neko has always referred to Furillen as something of a “home”. She has taken countless excellent pictures of the sim in the past, but I must say that I find this new collection of fifteen images taken by her of Furillen since it re-opened incredibly special. For anyone who feels a sense of attachment to this sim – and I surely do – these pictures really will speak to you.

As Neko explains in her note accompanying the show, her own personal affinity with the sim is emotional as well as aesthetic. I think we all missed her pictures when she was absent from the grid, and I am especially pleased for her that Furillen returned when it did to greet her …

With the emergence of realistic mesh objects, there are many SIMs that increase the density and increase the reality. But Furillen has a unique landscape by placing simple objects effectively and minimally. It leads to the minimalist sensibility of Japanese “Wabi-sabi” that I know well.
Minimalism loves the blank. Blank is free. There are no pressing emotions, and it gives us the possibility to express freely what we feel.That’s one reason why Furillen attracts many photographers and artists.

I remember when I first came to Furillen.
Some people called it an empty ruined place, but I loved this grey island at a glance.
And every time I turned the camera, I was impressed that it gave me a new discovery that I had never imagined.
The casual scenery is the best subject here.
This time, I wanted to keep the simple composition of Furillen in the work again, so I made it.

And another big surprise for me is that the people here are very friendly.
Because Furillen is closely related to Flickr, it is common to know who is making what here before saying “Hello”. It helped many of my poor English.
Many people I met at Furillen, I wouldn’t have been here without your support.
Thank you very much!

Furillen closed once a few years ago, during which time I was almost away from SL. The first thing I felt when I returned to SL this summer was that there was no Furillen, but surprisingly I met the island again a few months later. It was an event that made me feel destiny.

I know a lot of great photographers and artists who are more suitable to exhibit in this place than me. But now I hope please enjoy my mischief of fate.

So…do you know another name of Furillen?
It’s a “Love of Life”. meow! =(^.^)=

I thanks for being able to do the show in this loved place.
And i must say thanks a lot to Great Janitor Serene.
nekonuko Nakamori
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nekonuko/

bar cafe fabriken

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Having re-opened Furillen three weeks ago, I thought it would be good to bring back Bar Cafe Fabriken, which previous visitors to the sim might recall from spring 2016. The bar hosted a few events – some Blues nights, a beach party, and a tribute to Prince. I like the building a lot – it was put together by Micky Siamendes, who wrote a nice blog about it here. We made one or two changes this time around, and I think the ambience and decor – including this motley of chairs on the decking outside – suit Furillen quite well.

There are no grand plans for events, I am not the world’s greatest party organiser (or party goer, for that matter). But if any visitors want to take a turn as deejay, get in touch, you are more than welcome. Otherwise, we’ll host events as and when the mood takes us.

Furillen in motion

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Furillen has always been a sim with connections to Second Life photography – not only through its large Flickr group, but also through a number of exhibitions that the sim has hosted over the years. The first, Shoot the Shooters, was held in 2016 and consisted of a series of portraits by Moon Edenbaum of various Second Life photographers. Instead of simply hanging the portraits as one would in a real gallery, we projected them onto a wall, one by one, in front of a ‘live’ audience of visitors. It made for an interesting experience.

Following Moon’s show, the sim hosted a number of other exhibitions, including some featuring real life photography – such as BirdsVagabonds and Shadows and Reflections by Laura, and A Journey Around Gotland by Gabrielle Swindlehurst – as well as shows by Ini Inaka and Imani Nayar. In addition, there have been exhibitions of collections of pictures by visitors, such as Furillen in Snow.

When reviving Furillen a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be interesting to bring some art back to the sim. And so it is that a new show opens today – a collection of fifteen pictures called Furillen in Motion, by PixelBeing. Known in-world as VictoriaVicks, PixelBeing has long been one of my favourite Second Life photographers; indeed she has taken pictures of many of the sims I have been involved with, always coming up with some striking and unusual ways of representing and exploring what has been built. She works almost exclusively in black and white, and her pictures are distinctive for the way they seem to show their subject in motion, as if caught within a mere slither of time – hence the title of this exhibition. I also like the way her pictures use highly unusual perspectives. I have often found myself having to guess exactly where on the sim a particular picture has been taken, as in this example from Rummu

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PixelBeing has been taking pictures in Second Life for around two years. When I asked her for a few words about her favoured style of photography, she told me this …

It was, as it is now, a catching moment, a tune, a feeling and a mood of that exact instant that covers the edit as it is for every person who snaps anything in or outside secondlife or so I think. 

As for Furillen, it’s the only sim I can’t get enough of taking pictures of. It’s emptiness full of so many details always conquered my interest in it. I swear one day I will travel there to see it with my very own eyes live breathing in its air and will have a huge smile all the way around there.

There won’t be an opening party for this one, it’s simply there – right now – for visitors to walk around. Unlike other exhibitions at the sim, Furillen in Motion is located in the large concrete bunker (built by Megan Prumier) in the middle of the sim. We thought that these pictures – all taken during the two weeks since the sim re-opened – really suit that space.  I hope that you enjoy it.

One week at Furillen

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Furillen re-opened a week ago and has been busy ever since. The sim isn’t just popular; it actually means quite a lot to many people who have spent many hours there in the past. I was unsure about re-opening it, because sometimes it’s best not to look back. But having watched the sim being re-populated again this week, it simply occurs to me that Furillen will just keep on being the backdrop to whatever its visitors want to make of it – that’s the way it’s always been. There have been new visitors, too, and it has been interesting to see their reactions to this strangely magnetic place. Thanks to those of you who signed the guestbook, and to busy bloggers who have written reviews.

Furillen was always a photographers’ sim, and here are some highlights from the week on Flickr …

The hermit

"I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It's so fuckin' heroic." - George Carlin

Furillen

Furillen

The world is so much better....

Furillen

Mr Bojangles

Yoga Rabbit @ Furillen

Furillen

Furillen 08

Derrière les fenêtres

https://flic.kr/p/2hxgQJN

wandering_world694

Without you i'm nothing....@ Furrillen

Origins

The Wichita Lineman is Needed!

searching for the light

Everyone's time is limited ...

ꓭA⅃

whiteout

am coming...and after me the Hell

Furillen 01

[ On ira tous les deux jusqu'au bout ]

Feeling Saachi

Imperfection_wb_Furillen

.:: Made in Heaven ::.

~Back at Furillen~

Warm Snow

Villains of Circumstance

I'd tear my very soul to make you mine.

In solitude the mind gains strength ...

wandering_world695

Preserve your memories

.:: Trois Gymnopedies ::.

'Love of Life'

There is a World Outside

Furillen 2019 V

[ janitors day off ]

dans les étoiles - dreaming

Foretop

a snowy line...

You cannot find peace by avoiding life

The Camper

Lonely buildings 2

Furillen 2019 VI

Stored for winter

The Beauty In the Chair- Thanks ϻïă

[ iron skies ]

...

Melancholy

back Home

Life

Furillen

. endless .

Graphic Line at Furillen...

Arcole

Cafe View

Best Friends

Furillen -3

frozen summertime memories...

White Out at Furillen

Furillen Crow -  Perspective II

And there's love

Furillen (Gotland, Suécia)

Bringing colour to the beige

The other side.

Feed The Birds

2019 10 23   ::  why do birds suddenly appear?  ::

♥

Feeling sad

Furillen - Heavy Weather

Together and apart

bad luck

“There is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen.”

Mars talks about √enus... @Furillen

... best seat in the house...

'The Enigmatic Furillen'

Radiohead @ Furillen

F U R I L L E N

Furillen -5

SNOWFLAKES @ Furillen

Hey You!

Way of the cross

in the emptiness of the chair there is life.

https://flic.kr/p/2hxgQJN

Once again, Furillen seems to bring out the best in SL photography. Thanks for everyone who has been posting. Keep them coming …

As for the sim’s future, I am keeping an open mind. And I have some Furillen things planned, so closure won’t be on the cards for a while yet.

Love of Life

gallery poster

There is a retrospective exhibition of my pictures starting at the DixMix gallery tomorrow, the landmark is here. After spending years politely refusing to exhibit my pictures, and with Furillen re-opening yesterday, some of you might be asking what’s going on.

I am not usually given to public statements about my private affairs, but in this instance I feel it is appropriate to ‘clear the air’ and avoid misunderstanding. For over a year now, I have been living with cancer. I spent most of last winter receiving chemotherapy, and it was brutal. The treatment worked, but nothing is forever and my ‘struggle’ will be ongoing. During illness one inevitably spends time looking back and reflecting, and although DixMix had (and still has) no idea about my circumstances – hardly anyone within SL does know – a ‘retrospective’ exhibition seemed like something I could and should be doing right now. Likewise, it felt right to re-open the sim I always felt would be my ‘legacy’ in SL, and which I am incredibly fond of.

I am passing this news on not to elicit sympathy, nor – God forbid – to suggest that I’m going to expire any time soon. But my motives have occasionally been misconstrued in the past – sometimes quite hurtfully – and I want to avoid any misunderstanding now. I am all too aware that cancer touches many, possibly all, of us at some time in our lives. I am also aware that many of you who are reading this may have gone through, or are going through, a similar experience to mine, either directly or indirectly with friends or family. To all of you – solidarity.

Furillen started out on a region called ‘Love of Life’ and that always felt to me to represent what the sim was about – for all of its melancholic atmosphere, it was intended to be a place where visitors could reflect, take time out, and find their own peace. One of my favourite pictures carries a title which I believe expresses this sentiment well. The words – ‘nothing can surpass the mystery of stillness’ – are from EE Cummings:

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surpass

Furillen revived

furillen is back brighter copy

While I take a break from making new sims, I have revived the sim where it all began – Furillen. The landmark is here.

Furillen first opened at the beginning of October in 2015: it was announced by posting this picture in Flickr. The building process continued to be ongoing through that winter as refinements were added – including a pier and utility shed made by KT Syakumi and two buildings – a huge concrete bunker and a smaller building that serves as a cafe – by Megan Prumier. These were all based on photographs of the original location – Furillen is the site of an abandoned limestone quarry on the Gotland peninsula in Sweden – and were intended to help realise my original aim, which was to replicate the real place.

The sim subsequently went through a number of iterations – it was turned into a virtual celebration of Radiohead and Pink Floyd, as well as a series of Star Wars locations – that were punctuated by partial rebuilds and redesigns of the “original” Furillen itself. The sim eventually closed – albeit with a promise that I would revive it some day – in October 2017.

This latest revival of the sim consists of a hybrid of the different versions, focusing on my own personal favourite bits. Most notably I have used the first hotel building – taken from Soy and “decorated” in a style quite unlike any hotel I have ever stayed in – as well as the original, highly distinctive, line of trees. The old gallery building is back, along with the Gotland ferry. There is also a new communications bunker – acknowledging Furillen’s association with military radar surveillance.

And it’s snowing, which always seemed to the “right” Furillen weather.

For photographers, there is an already large Furillen Flickr group, and I would be pleased to see visitors adding their names to the guestbook. And given that I am funding this on my own, donations would definitely be welcome! I cannot say how long the sim will stay open, but it definitely won’t be for long.

For those who remember the sim from before, I wish you a nostalgic return. For anyone who has never seen it, I hope you like what you find.

 

 

Goodbye North Brother

North Brother Island was open for much of the summer and it now seems like the right time to be closing. We enjoyed building this sim and – as ever – would like to thank everyone who visited, took pictures, left comments, and wrote generous reviews. The sim will close from Wednesday 4 September.

Usually at this time there is speculation about “what next?”. I’m sorry to say that the answer for the time being is “nothing”. We are taking a break from sim building in order to focus on other things. It’s possible that we will be back later on, but for now, our run of “replica” sims that reconstruct real places – Furillen, Khodovarikha, La Digue du Braek, Isle of May, Black Bayou Lake, Rummu, Chesapeake Bay, Ukivok, and North Brother Island – will come to an end. We enjoyed it!

Farewell …

North Brother Island

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North Brother Island is situated in New York City‘s East River between the mainland Bronx and Rikers Island. Now uninhabited and abandoned, the island is the inspiration for our new sim, which opens today. The landmark is here.

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The island took its name from Adriaen Block, a Dutchman who explored the Atlantic Coast between 1611 and 1614. He named the two islands – north and south – “de Gesellen,” which translates as “the wayfarers” or the “journeymen” or “brethren” – hence “brothers.”

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North Brother Island has a fascinating and complex history. It was home to a tuberculosis hospital – Riverside Hospital, which moved here from Roosevelt Island in 1885 – that closed in the late 1930s.

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riverside

The hospital has seen more than its fair share of tragic stories. Its most famous inmate was surely Mary Mallon, or “Typhoid Mary” (1869-1938).

mallon

Mallon, an Irish-American cook, was the first person in the United States to be identified as an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook. Mallon refused to accept that she was infectious, and was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities. She spent the last 23 years of her life – from 1915 until 1938 – in isolation at Riverside Hospital.

mallon 2

Mallon’s case seems especially tragic today. She was undoubtedly a victim of prejudice – she was both Irish and a woman; she was unmarried; she was a domestic servant – and was punished severely and repeatedly for something over which she had no understanding and no control. Little wonder that, more than eighty years after she died, her story seems as compelling as ever …

 

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Following World War II North Brother Island was inhabited by war veterans during the nationwide housing shortage, before being abandoned again in the early 1950s. It was then was used as the site of a treatment centre for adolescent drug addicts, but the centre closed amidst controversy – it was said that heroin addicts were held against their will and locked in rooms until ‘clean’ – in the 1960s.

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The island was then abandoned completely, becoming – alongside the smaller South Brother Island – a sanctuary for herons and a variety other wading birds such as cormorants and egrets.

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Various New York City mayors have wondered what to do with North Brother Island: John Lindsay considered selling it, Ed Koch wanted to convert the island into housing for the homeless, while others explored using it as an extension of the jail at Rikers Island.

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At present, North Brother Island is managed by NYC Parks and off-limits to the public – visits are allowed only for “compelling academic and scientific purposes”. One proposal currently being considered is to re-open the island for limited “light-touch, environmentally sensitive” public access, although the dilapidated and downright dangerous state of many of the buildings and structures there would surely necessitate a good deal of costly rebuilding – or demolition.

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The island is surely a tricky place to get around. Many of the buildings – including the massive gantry crane situated on the main dock – are in a state of near-collapse.

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The roads and paths have been swallowed up by vegetation. Visitors must be on constant lookout for falling debris, while beneath their feet, gaping manholes and broken branches are covered by untamed weeds. Poison ivy is omnipresent.

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For our reconstruction of North Brother Island, we have relied on maps which contain details of where specific buildings – the hospital itself, staff quarters, the physician’s house, the morgue, tennis courts, and so on – were located. (For reference, we have labelled and dated the island’s buildings inworld.) These maps help to convey what a busy and vibrant place this must have been.

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In addition, our interpretation of North Brother Island as it is today has been helped by looking at arial pictures such as this one …

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Most importantly, we have drawn on the photographs taken by Christopher Payne and published in his book, North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City.

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Payne was one of a handful of photographers permitted to visit the island, and he spent around five years gathering his pictures. Here are some examples from this stunning series …

North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City

North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City

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North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City

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North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City

North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City

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There are also some excellent videos …

As we researched North Brother Island we were struck both by the history of the place itself, and its remarkable location. The subtitle of Payne’s book – “the last unknown place in New York City” – sums this up perfectly. North Brother Island is close to the heart of this great city, and yet for most New Yorkers it is surely ignored – undiscovered and unknown. Tragedies unfolded here that are long forgotten, just as the buildings in which they took place have been eroded by time. We hope that you enjoy our interpretation of the island – and as ever, invite you to post your pictures in the Flickr group.