Noble people and beautiful places remembered in Second Life

Nico Vichan: American Nobility - Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015
Nico Vichan: American Nobility – Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015

I’ve long admired and enjoyed the art and photography of both Nino Vichan and WuWai Chun. so given both currently have exhibitions being hosted at the Sabra Art Gallery, operated and curated by Kylie Sabra, I took the opportunity to hop over and tour both.

American Nobility, Nino’s exhibit, is a beautiful and powerful series of images of Native Americans, offering both a homage to their history and something of a reminder of their harsh treatment.

Nico Vichan: American Nobility - Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015
Nico Vichan: American Nobility – Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015

Walk through the two chambers displaying Nino’s work, and you’ll meet proud and dignified individuals, previously captured in images from a bygone era, and here given a new lease of life by Nino. Some you may recognise, such as Sitting Bull, in a familiar pose with his peace pipe in one hand. Other may not be so familiar, such as Running Rabbit, immortalised in a 1900 black-and-white postcard for the edification of “civilised” people. All have, however, been captured in images  – mostly monochrome or sepia, and have here been given new life through Nino’s eyes and hands.

“This exhibition,” Nino states, “presents the contrast between the dignity and spirituality of the indigenous people of the North American continent and the genocide of these and other indigenous people throughout the world.”

Nico Vichan: American Nobility - Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015
Nico Vichan: American Nobility – Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015

All of these images are striking in their own way; but the all have one thing very much in common: the look in their eyes.

It is often said the the eyes are the windows of the soul; and in these images, Nino has powerfully captured this There is a deep dignity evident in the eyes of his subjects – very powerfully so. In fact, Nino told him it was the eyes of his subjects, as captured in images by others, which drew him to portray them himself.

Such is the life Nino has breathed into these images that it is almost impossible not to find yourself drawn to the eyes as well; there is very definitely a sense of nobility and wisdom to be found within them. I challenge anyone not to stand before his interpretation of Wife of Madoc Henry – Klamath (seen in the image headlining this article) and not be captivated by her eyes. And when you’ve done so, go back and look again at each of the paintings in turn.

And don’t be surprised if you hear the distant whisperings of the Great Spirit.

WuWai Chun: Places - Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015
WuWai Chun: Places – Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015

Places is WuWai Chun’s latest collection of images captured from around Second Life and presented in her own unique and utterly captivating style.

“There are many beautiful places in second life,” WuWai says. “Some of the places in the pictures no longer exist, others have changed. The pictures are an expression of my perspective and mood of the places. Just as art is in the eye of the beholder, the creations of the SL-builders can be perceived from a personal and own point of view. I did this with the help of the windlight settings in the Firestorm viewer as well as the possibilities of image processing.”

WuWai Chun: Places - Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015
WuWai Chun: Places – Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015

The result is a beautiful series of images that capture some famous (and perhaps not-so-famous) sites from within Second Life, offered in a remarkable range of styles and finishes – so much so, that one could be forgiven for thinking the exhibit features the work of more than one artist.

These are images that evoke strong feelings of wanting and longing – wanting to visit those we’ve not previously witnessed and are still available, and longing to see again those we have visited in the past, but which are now no more.

Proceeds from the sale of any copies of WuWai’s images will be donated to Feed A Smile, the in-world charity arm of Live and Learn in Kenya (LLK), making this exhibit doubly worthwhile visiting. And don’t forget you can also find WuWai’s work on her Flickr feed.

WuWai Chun: Places - Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015
WuWai Chun: Places – Sabra Art Gallery, May 2015

And while there, do please visit the other sections of the Sabra Art Gallery, all are very worthwhile seeing; and consider making a donation to help towards meeting on-going running costs.

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Of seeking respite in Second Life

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr) – click any image to enlarge

There are times, no matter how you try, when the words you want to put into an article refuse to either run from fingers through keyboard to screen, or when on the screen, simply don’t want to order themselves in the way you’d like.

When this happens, you can really only do one of two things; wrestle with the words in the hope of getting them to submit and line-up the way you’d like – or go seek respite by doing something else entirely. For me, the latter generally involves a bath full of hot water and bubbles, music and a book (and perhaps a glass of wine on the side). Today however, I decided to find respite from my block by jumping into SL, albeit with no clear idea of where I Might go or what I might do.  Fortunately, there are plenty of places in-world to captivate us and carry us far from the roubles of the physical world – and even the worries of what to do.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

Places like Leico Arado’s region of France Portnawak, which has recently undergone one of its regular make-overs, and has been given the theme name of Terracotta.

The last time I visited, autumn was just settling-in for a stay; now it is the turn of a balmy, semi-tropical summer evening, the sun casting a golden glow across the sky and the sea from the west, the haze in the sky all but masking shadows on the ground (see the images that top and tail this article).

The region has been crafted into a west-facing island that is intriguing in its mix of tropical and deciduous flora; groups of palms standing amidst or close to trees from more temperate climates. Scattered around the landscape, which varies from low-lying sands and grass to rocky outcrops, can be found a number of houses and outbuildings, each with its own ambience and story.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

One of the houses sits out on the water on stilts, reached by a meandering path of stones which forms something of a breakwater. Within the rough circle formed by the stones, fishing nets awaited attendance, marsh plants float idly and long grass marches out from the shore, claiming a large part of the watery enclosure. Motor boats apparently offer a means to shuffle back and forth between the shore and the house in place of walking; but be warned – the enclosed water is bounded by a number of submerged physical invisiprims which tend to interfere with navigation.

The house on stilts appears to be the lodge of a hunter / fisherman – at least going by the wall decor. The other houses also have a particular character of their own; the one on the coast closest to the stone path, for example, suggests a woman’s touch and the presence of children. Not far from this, behind steep sand dunes, sits what might be a den used by teenagers, sitting under the metal roof of an open-sided hut.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

Quite what the stories are to these and the other places to be found on the island is up to you as the visitor to decide – and there’s more than enough scattered around each of them to get the imagination rolling with narratives. But, if dwelling on possible stories isn’t to your mindset, there are also plenty of places to simply sit and while away the time, either on your own or with a friend, while a climb up to the highest point on the island will bring you to a rather interesting little temple.

In its latest iteration, France Portnawak offers a curious juxtaposition of looks and styles which somehow simply works, with everything flowing together to present visitors with a chance to wander, wonder and simply relax.

Which is just what I needed to do.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

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