Small town living in Second Life

Crestwick Island; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Crestwick Island (Flickr) – click and image for full size

Crestwick Island is a small town sited in a picturesque bay, and it’s not unreasonable to state that it has perhaps been better days; the streets are a little careworn, some of the houses equally so. And while there are attempts at colour and gaiety in the town centre, it’s hard not to escape the feeling that you’re visiting a little corner of the world that has passed its prime while seeking to hang on to it as best it can.

Which is not to say it is in any way a place that shouldn’t be seen – entirely the opposite, in fact. Designed by Isa Messioptra and Ciphertazi Wandin, Crestwick Island is actually a joy to see and wander through, and considerable care has been taken to offer a place that has a very genuine feel to it while enfolding the kind of quirks and whimsy that will bring a smile to the face of any visitor as they perambulate through the streets and along the footpaths and tracks. There’s even a few nods towards the the realm of Hollywood – although they may escape immediate recognition except to the film buffs among us.

Crestwick Island; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Crestwick Island (Flickr)

Take, for example, the town’s beauty salon; the sign over the windows proudly proclaims it to be The Best Little Hair House in Crestwick – a play on the title of a certain musical and 1982 film about a Chicken Ranch in Texas, and starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds.

The beauty salon shares the town’s main street with the local medical centre, newspaper offices, bank, books shop and dance studio, with the town hall presiding sternly over all of them. Sitting kitty-corner to the beauty salon is the still chic Rosewater Cafe, offering refreshments, a place to while away the hours and dancing for those in the mood.

At the opposite end of the street to the town hall can be found the art gallery, featuring Isa’s stunning artwork (which can also be found on Flickr, as can Cipher’s) and which sits under a fading billboard which will take movie buffs Back To …. another  film from the 1980s starring Michael J. Fox…

Crestwick Island; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Crestwick Island (Flickr)

Nor is art limited to the gallery; there is some impressive graffiti to be found on the walls of certain buildings, and it can also be found in doors as well. In this respect, do make sure you pay a visit to the local place of worship; it has something quite novel to offer visitors, and a trip to Crestwick Island would be incomplete without stopping by!

Further out from the town the landscape is a little more rugged, and a tall plateau rises to the north west, topped by what looks like an old observatory dome and a smaller building. Stone steps with rusting iron handrails offer a way up to the dome, as does a winding sandy track – and anyone who has visited Griffiths Park and Observatory in Los Angeles might has a slight sense of deja-vu walking up the track; I know I did.

Crestwick Island; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Crestwick Island (Flickr)

Do take note, however, that like the town’s church, the observatory isn’t all it seems, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the name “Roswell” slips into your thoughts once you’ve climbed the ageing metal stairs up to the dome…

All told, Crestwick island is a visual treat, whether seen under the default windlight (to which I made only minor tweaks for most of the picture here) or under … well, probably just about any one you care to choose; it’s instantly picturesque, the slightly running-to-seed look actually adding to the look and feel of the town. If you’ve not visited already, it’s well worth the time in stopping by; you can even enjoy a little wine in the park or a snuggle at the cliff side camp…

Crestwick Island; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Crestwick Island (Flickr)

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Visionary Tales in Second Life

Visionary Tales
Visionary Tales

Set to open at 15:00 SLT on Wednesday, June 3rd, is the latest exhibition at Max Butoh’s marvellous Dathúil gallery. Visionary Tales features the  artistry of Pollyanna4, who describes herself as a “photographic storyteller” – and a visit to Dathúil will reveal why.

“My artworks are stories, people, places and moments in time.,” Pollyanna explains. “I am inspired by many things, music, a lyric, a verbal conversation, or the mood and atmosphere of what greets me.”

Visionary Tales
Visionary Tales

The result is a series of 21 images, which can also be found on Pollyanna’s stunning Flickr stream, and here divided into three story sets, which she describes as, “Coming Home ~ Trials and tribulations of a difficult journey”, “Dolls ~ From the Heart” and “Abstracted world (stories/people/views/outlooks)”.  Each of the pieces includes a small book in the lower right corner which, when clicked, will offer a short piece of text in personal chat to help frame the image; and these can themselves be powerfully emotive:

Lost and alone, cold and confused.

She fell to her knees and screamed to the heavens above Dear God, help me…there has to be a way!

Falling in a heap on the wooden slats of the bridge, she closed her eyes.

Visionary Tales
Visionary Tales

“Often, I create from the idea itself and build my imagery around the idea,” Polyanna continues in describing her work. “However, on other occasions it is a glancing feeling which makes me get out my camera and capture the essence. Texture and shadow within a photograph are things I enjoy exploring, giving many different variations on the normal photographic image created by the SL camera.

“My aim, is to make people think. To look at every part of the photograph and read for themselves, with the help of the title and or music/poetry, just what the story is being told. ”

The result is a series of pictures and associated texts which encourage the observer to enter into the piece that are looking at, to share in the story that is being shown to them, and thus to carry it in whatever direction they take – or it leads; .both images and words beautifully evocative.

Visionary Tales
Visionary Tales

This is another outstanding exhibition in what is fast becoming my favourite gallery in terms of its design, ambience and the range of exhibitions featured since it opened. I have no hesitation in recommending Visionary Tales as an exhibit worth seeing. In keeping with the theme, the formal opening event on June 3rd will feature singer and storyteller Russell Eponym. Thereafter, Visionary Tales will be open through until the end of June.

My thanks to Lucy and to Max for the warm invitation to drop-in and preview the exhibit.

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An opportunity in Australia with a little help through Second Life

Image courtesy of Carmsie Melodie
Image courtesy of Carmsie Melodie

FreeWee Ling is perhaps best known for her tireless work on behalf of the University of Western Australia (UWA), and co-organiser and curator of the UWA’s art-related projects, activities and galleries within Second Life.

At the end of 2014, she rightly gained recognition from the Australian Department of Education for this work, and was awarded an Endeavour Executive Fellowship that allowed her to travel from her home in the eastern United States to spend four months at the UWA in Perth, Australia, where she was based with the UWA’s Department of Physics.

FreeWee was encouraged to apply for an Endeavour Executive Fellowship by colleague Jayjay Zifanwe (Jay Jay Jegatheva in the physical world, Manager of the School of Physics at UWA) and her application was supported by a letter of recommendation from UWA.

Now, JayJay, FreeWee and the UWA are encouraging other Second Life residents to take the opportunity to follow in FreeWee’s footsteps, and applying for a 2016 Endeavour Executive Fellowship and, if selected by the Australian Department of Education, travel to UWA.

News of this was passed to me by Carmsie Melodie, who Tweeted me to point to a write-up on her blog. The same write-up is also available on the UWAinSL blog, where FreeWee has also written about her experience as a Fellowship awardee – so if you are interested in applying, do make sure you read FreeWee’s article.

What is the Endeavour Executive Fellowship?

The Endeavour Executive Fellowship is one of a number of Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships offered by the Australian government to international applicants from participating countries who are considered high achievers in business, industry, education or government.

The Endeavour Executive Fellowship is a 4-month study period in Australia, focusing on learning and building skills and knowledge through a host work environment in the applicant’s field or area of expertise, rather than through formal enrolment in a study programme. It offers financial support (up to  Australian $18,500) towards professional development opportunities for the successful applicant, and an opportunity to study at UWA for four months.

Image courtesy UWA
Image courtesy UWA

Commenting on her experience in applying, FreeWee said:

The Endeavour application process was fairly easy, all done online. You need to describe what you want to do, get a couple of people to write recommendations, get certified copies of transcripts, etc. But it’s all carefully laid out in the online application. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about it. You can’t win if you don’t enter!

Once I was notified that my application was approved, the program turned me over to a caseworker who supported me from leaving for Perth to arriving back home. My caseworker was great, always responded quickly to any concerns I had and monitored my progress throughout my stay.

To find out more, please read the Endeavour Scholarship and Fellowship lead-in from the Australian Government,  which also includes a link to the applications forms.

Should you decide to apply for the Executive Fellowship, please be sure to contact Jayjay (in-world via IM or note card or via e-mail to: jay.jay-at-uwa.edu.au) and / or FreeWee (in-world via note card) for advice and support on how the UWAinSL can assist you in your application.

Do note as well that submissions for Fellowship applications close on Tuesday 30th June, 2016.

With thanks to Carmsie Melodie for the pointer via Twitter.