Art

Top image: Artwork by Lottie Pendlebury.

A couple of months ago photographer Holly Whitaker and illustrator Fran Aubergines decided it was time to put an end to the difficulty themselves and friends faced in trying to exhibit their art, cue the duo’s new FLOP creative collective. A multi-media platform functioning on a DIY level, FLOP is a safe space for artists of all mediums to come together and exhibit their works. The collective runs on one vital principle: encouragement.

The title FLOP is a subversive reference to the idea of constant failure. With social media platforms creating a toxically competitive environment for artists and photographers alike, many yearn for their art to exist outside of a phone screen. Putting on their first ever exhibition at the Brixton Pound later this month, the group are presenting works by nine artists, with works spanning photography, installation and animation. In the run up to the event, we spoke to Holly and Fran about the pitfalls of privilege, supportive situations but mostly, great art.

Violet Conroy: How did you come up with the concept for your collective?
Holly Whitaker: Fran and I were both so eager to show our work somewhere and I personally felt I was going a little creatively mouldy, paired with not great mental health I was losing confidence in my photography. But FLOP wasn’t only helping us to get motivated, it was helping our friends – who often don’t get the chance – to show their amazing work.
Fran Aubergines: Holly and I were both very interested in putting on a show but we were quite unsure about how to do so, due to our lack of resources and curatorial experience. We thought reuniting different artists and ourselves would be the best way to start off a new project such as FLOP. The inception of FLOP came through the frustration of not having the possibility to exhibit our own artwork. We were both feeling unmotivated and unsatisfied about our creative experiences. The name FLOP itself comes in fact from the constant idea of failure and using it turns the negative connotation of the word into something positive.

Violet: Could you explain a bit about what FLOP does? 
Holly: FLOP is a platform for anyone to show their work. We feel that unless you already have the upper hand in terms of a social status or go to an art school, you never really get to exhibit anything. It’s also a nice way of meeting different people and it’s always exciting to see art life-size rather than on a tiny screen via Instagram.
Fran: FLOP is a collective that aims to provide a multi-media platform for artists to exhibit their work. To do so we organised a fundraising event in order to gain the requisite costs to put on the exhibition. Currently our friend and graphic designer Denny Kaulbach is designing FLOP’s first booklet, which will tie all the exhibiting artists together and give a better idea of what we are about and who we all are.

Violet: How did you two first meet?
Holly: We originally met through our friend Maya after she met Fran on a foundation course and I was quite drawn to how open-minded and interesting she was. We ended up talking at the pub a while back about how we both wanted to do something with our work and the whole idea came very naturally.
Fran: I have always been a fan of Holly’s work and a few months ago we happened to talk about the lack of motivation we were both experiencing in terms of creativity. We quickly clocked we were going through a similar phase and decided to meet up to discuss the possibility of putting on a show.

“FLOP aims at providing a wide range of different mediums all standing behind the same theme, such as the social anxiety a city like London can create for creative minded people and how destructive creative competition can be.”

The Moonlandingz by Holly Whitaker

Violet: Your exhibition will feature an array of multidisciplinary artists, what drew you to this array of artists?
Holly: We wanted the first exhibition to be made up of people who came to us and also friends whose art we’ve been excited about but perhaps wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. Like Spit Tease do really great collage work, Lottie Pendlebury has filmed this mad video footage paired with incredible photos and drawings, AYDUA have made beautiful tapestries, there’s some painting, photography, illustration, projection, poetry, we just got really drawn in by how amazing everyone’s art was. But for the next one, we really want to open it up and include anyone that would like to get involved, no limits.
Fran: FLOP aims at providing a wide range of different mediums all standing behind the same theme, such as the social anxiety a city like London can create for creative minded people and how destructive creative competition can be. We then gathered a few artists we know because they fell within this specific theme in order to create a multi-media exhibition.

Violet: How important do you think collectives are in London’s creative scene right now? Particularly ones with a DIY approach, it seems to be the only way to get your work seen nowadays. 

Holly: I think it’s important to have a group of close-knit and kind people who are passionate about what they do and want to support you as well. It’s really refreshing to have such a nice trusting network. Maybe it does seem to be the only way nowadays if you’re not from a somewhat privileged background.
Fran: I don’t personally feel anybody would want to be categorised within a specific creative scene, particularly as there is so much work out there, all incredibly varied. Yes, collectives are a useful way to gain momentum and exposure but they aren’t the be all and end all.

FLOP Exhibition runs from 30th September – 2nd October at the Brixton Pound.