Excellent news reached us this week of a London based Flickr group that has successfully made the transition from online admiration to offline collaboration. Effra FC’s first exhibition opens this Thursday at The Sun and Doves in Camberwell. We asked them a few questions about how it all happened.
How did you become Effra FC?
A small number of people stumbled upon pictures of Brockwell Park and local Herne Hill and Brixton landmarks on Flickr after taking photographs of the area. Camaraderie and mutual respect developed in the comment threads on these photographs, which gave an insight into the lives of people on our doorsteps. All the time we were aware that we were busily leading our lives in parallel, perhaps even crossing each other on the street without knowing who we were. That kind of curiosity can lead to trawling through countless photographs of people you haven’t yet met and accurately guessing where some of them live. It wasn’t long before two people bumped into one another in a local shop, easily recognisable from self- portraits published on their Flickr streams. A suggestion to pool local contacts was made and like every great English love, it began to take shape in a pub.
Some have said that meeting one another in the real world felt perverse after seeing so many pictures. There’s always that strange feeling of meeting someone whose image you know, almost like an encounter with a celebrity. Flickr groups gave us a place to share photographs and discuss our meet ups. Without communicating online via Flickr groups, Effra FC would struggle to do anything. And given how much time we all spend hanging about on Flickr, it’s particularly satisfying to have made some flesh-and-blood friends out of it.
What did you hope to achieve with Effra FC?
Pretty much the only aim when we got started was to meet up offline, and it just grew from there. The great thing about Effra FC is how it has developed organically into what it is now. There’s no spokesperson and almost no rules. In the first year, we only hoped to get together every last Tuesday of each month and share work over a few drinks. The various levels of skill and different styles in the group help to make it what it is. There’s no question that people have been inspired or motivated by fellow members. It has long since transcended from a shared interest in photography to becoming a real platform for wider community interaction. Some of the members see one another more than their oldest friends and family. Effra FC is also a lot of fun and we wouldn’t want it to be any other way. The monthly themed photography competition with questionable prizes is just one way to focus our get-together and find inspiration for photography in the ‘slow’ months.
How have you got to this point: staging your first exhibition?
Nothing happens in Effra FC without someone making a suggestion and more than one person agreeing that it’s a good idea. Flickr allows you to create private groups and we created one to use as a forum for organising the show. There’s been a huge amount of back-and-forth online with different people arranging framing and materials, printing a catalogue, sorting out the launch party and arranging publicity. And most importantly, we were each able to submit a selection of pictures to the group to get everyone else’s feedback on which would work in the show. Effra FC has used a lot of low-fi (i.e. free) techniques to show work in the past. We’ve had photographs projected onto buildings, through windows, inside various local pubs by slideshow and adorned the walls of empty shops in old DVD cases. But this exhibition is the first time we’ve shown work professionally as a group. Mark from The Sun & Doves invited us to put on a show – 16 members opted in and the rest is history.
Effra FC’s exhibition is at the Sun and Doves, Camberwell SE5 from Thursday 25 November until 25 January 2011. Free admission. All the work is for sale. Have a sneak peek at their catalogue and RSVP to their Facebook event for the opening party. There are also some photos of the exhibition hang in the Flickr group.