Gates of Melancholy – click any image for full size
Newly opened as of Saturday, June 4th, is Gates of Melancholy, the latest regions design by photographer shelly70, and a further piece in her Gates series (see my article on Gates of Memories for a sample of her work cloaked in winter). And like her previous designs, Gates of Melancholy is a visual feast.
“This sim which is based on and inspired from the life and work of the famous American painter Andrew Wyeth,” Shelly says of the design, “is created to emulate and elicit the feel in [his] watercolour paintings.”
A realist painter, Wyeth (July 12, 1917 – January 16, 2009) predominantly focused on his local landscape and the people within it, presenting America and the world with a grim, flinty, and often starchly sentimental view of New England. His was a world of empty beaches, windswept, desiccated fields, wooden buildings grey with age, their frames like brittle parchment, and locals with faces as craggy as many a coastal cliff, couple with evocative studies of families and friends. There is, as Shelly states in her introductory notes, a stark nostalgia and melancholy evident in his work, and she has striven to recreate that feeling with the look and feel of the region.
This is a rugged, coastal landscape from which wood-framed outbuildings and chapels rise, wood parched and faded under the unrelenting influence of coastal weather, and where the farmhouses carry a careworn look. The lands around them is a mix of open fields, craggy scarps and rises, where the trees are often bent and crooked as with great age, shapes borne of long years resisting the prevailing winds. The grass is mostly short and tufted, often with the bald, rocky land beneath it showing through here and there before the land abrupt falls way by scarp or cliff. Over all of this, an ochre sun hands in an ochre sky, casting the landscape into a sombre twilight.
It is, quite simply, breathtaking – although I admittedly opted for an alternative Windlight when capturing the images shown here; there is so much that is evocative of Wyeth’s work. Two examples of this came to me in the form of a view up a grassy slope towards distance farm buildings which immediately suggested Christina’s World, albeit without the central character, whilst a rowing boat draw up onto the grass immediately put me in mind of Teel’s Island, Maine.
Nor is this any empty landscape – there are signs of life everywhere, within the barns, in the houses, and outside under the awnings of little market-like stalls, all offering views and scenes ready to capture the eye and camera. Many of the the building offer the opportunity to sit and snuggle or chat, adding to the desire to visit and tarry.
Complemented by an audio stream Shelly has taken pains to put together, as well as ambient local sounds, Gates of Melancholy, like Wyeth’s paintings, is not something simply to be seen; it is a place to be experienced and savoured for all of its stark beauty and realism. It is a place, I’ve little doubt, that were his spirit ever to visit, it would recognise and approve.
- Gates of Melancholy (Rated: Moderate)