Serene Footman: one of the great hearts of Second life

Isle of May, October 2022

On October 2nd, 2022 Jade Koltai informed us that Serene Footman, her long-time creative partner in bringing together some of the most outstanding region builds witnessed in Second Life, passed away from cancer in August 2022.

To my regret, Serene and I were not closely acquainted in Second Life; although we did exchange IMs at times, and chatted on a few topics. However, I didn’t actually need to converse with him to hear his voice or appreciate his heart: both could be seen and felt through every single region build he and Jade presented to Second Life for the enjoyment of everyone who visited them.

I first became familiar with Serene and Jade’s work back in 2015, when they opened Furillen, a Homestead region modelled on a small isle of that name and itself laying off the coast of Gotland, Sweden’s largest island. By turn a quarry, then a military installation and more recently a conference centre, Furillen’s history was richly and evocatively caught in Serene and Jade’s build  –  and build that set the tone for almost all of their subsequent designs, as well as loaning its name to Serene’s blog.

Furillen; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrFurillen, 2015 – blog post

I say “almost”, because the next design the pair produced was very different to any physical world location (although it did include a reproduction of London’s Battersea power Station), as it offered an engaging and unique homage to English rock band Pink Floyd with Pink Floyd Ate My Sim.

But it was with the representation of physical world locations that Serene and Jade’s partnership became most well-known, with designs encompassing La Digue du Braek (found in France), Khodovarikha (Russia), Isle of May (Scotland), Louisiana’s Black Bayou Lake, Rummu quarry in Estonia, Chesapeake Bay, Ukivok in Alaska, North Brother Island, New York, to name just some – with both Serene and Jade also producing individual region designs also based on physical world locations as well.

Ojuela, May 2022 – blog post

The major points of all of these designs, alongside them being modelled on places people would likely otherwise have little or not opportunity to visit in the physical world, was the fact they were richly detailed and offered superbly imaginative interpretations of the places on which they were based, given the limitations (notably physical space) found within SL Homestead (and even Full) regions.

A further aspect of these builds which helped distinguish them from other region builds lay in the amount of additional information Serene would provide on them and their physical world namesakes through his Furillen blog which remains (for the time being at least), an excellent reference work in its own right.

Serene was also a gifted photographer, and his images were subject to exhibitions in Second Life, as with 2019 Retrospective, which I reviewed here, and which demonstrated Serene’s wonderfully understated and eye-caching technique.

Black Bayou Lake; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr
Black Bayou Lake, 2018 – blog post

To give people the opportunity to remember Serene, his work, and her partnership with him, Jade has returned Isle of May – one of Serene’s favourite builds – to Second Life, and visitors are encouraged to drop in and recall Serene’s presence in Second Life, the beauty of his work and the joy he brought to all of us in visiting these wonderful creations.

My condolences to Jade and to Serene’s family and friends.

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