The haunting beauty of Everwinter in Second Life

Everwinter; Inara Pey, October 2016, on Flickr Everwinter – click any image for full size

I make no secret of being a fan of Lauren Bentham’s region designs. I’ve covered several of them in these pages; they are always beautifully conceived and wonderfully executed – even when the theme might be a little on the dark side – making them a joy to visit and explore.

Take Everwinter. It is a dark design, and might easily be taken to be in keeping with the time of year. However, its roots go far deeper than Halloween or any “traditional” apocalyptic setting. As Lauren notes in her introduction to the region, Everwinter takes its inspiration from a place in the physical world, and centre of a very specific event.

Everwinter; Inara Pey, October 2016, on Flickr Everwinter

Located in northern Ukraine, close to the border with the Republic of Belarus in 1970, Pripyat City was the ninth nuclear city (a kind of closed city) dedicated to supporting the Soviet Union’s burgeoning nuclear power industry. By early 1986, its population was over 49,000 – but by the end of April that year,  it lay a ghost town. It has remained that way ever since; and while most of us might not know its name first-hand, few of us are unfamiliar with the name that brought about Pripyat’s desertion: Chernobyl.

Pripyat’s sole purpose was to house all those involved in running and maintaining the Chernobyl nuclear plant, giving those workers and their families all the necessities of life: housing, shops, schools, public amenities including a public swimming pool and an amusement park. But when a systems test at the power station went disastrously wrong, the entire city was evacuated on the afternoon of April 27th, 1986, leaving the great Ferris wheel of its amusement park as one of the most enduring photographic images of the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident.

Everwinter; Inara Pey, October 2016, on Flickr Everwinter

It is the amusement park which forms the centre of Lauren’s build at Everwinter – but as she points out, this is not intended to be a recreation of either Pripyat park, or a reflection of the Chernobyl disaster itself, although she provide some starting statistics about both in her introductory notes, and they make sobering reading.

From all of this, you can probably guess expect, Everwinter is an atmospheric build; one which should be visited with local sounds enabled. By doing so, arriving visitors can hear the actual evacuation message just as it was broadcast that chilling afternoon in April 27th, 1986.

A ruined, broken road leads away from the landing point, neon signs  – in English, a further demonstration that Everwinter is not intended to be a historical recreation of Pripyat – glow faintly, competing with a lowering Sun which lights the old amusement park in the distance. Along this cracked road, tumbleweeds roll in the wind, vehicles lie rusting and broken, and locals stand, heads encased in gas masks.

Everwinter; Inara Pey, October 2016, on Flickr Everwinter

The amusement park stands deserted, the Ferris wheel rising into a cloudy sky, its cars broken and arms rusting, caught in flickers of lightning. Mist – or what appears to be mist – drifts across the ground beneath and wraps itself around trees and the remains of the park. But is it really mist? Look again and none the flickers of pigment within it, like tiny particles suspending in the air – a symbol, perhaps of the deadly nuclear poisons which sparkles and shifted through the air over the city in the wake of Chernobyl’s meltdown.

Dark, with the shells of concrete apartment buildings blurring with rugged hills to form the region’s edge, broken only by the route to a small area of coastline, Everwinter is a foreboding place. The home of dangerous mists and even stranger, haunting clowns and creatures. Yet one nevertheless photogenic and encouraging exploration. A masterpiece of design; the ideal destination for those seeking an engaging and very different kind of haunting visit.

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Opening November’s Art at the Park in Second Life

Art at the Park, November 2016
Art at the Park, November 2016

The November 2016 Art at the Park exhibition opens at Holly Kai Park on October 29th, 2016 and runs through until November 27th.

For this exhibition, we are both pleased and privileged to be featuring the work of five more talented artists, who between them offer a rich diversity of art and styles. They are: Sheba Blitz, Maxi Daviau, Skinnynilla, Terrygold and Sorcha Tyles.

The exhibition will formally open on Saturday, October 29th at 12:00 noon SLT, with a live performance by Winston Ackland, making his first appearance at the park, with music streamed from 1:00pm onwards. Formal attire is requested for the opening.

We look forward to welcoming you to Holly Kai Park and our November exhibition, and hope you’ll join us for the opening event on Saturday, October 29th!

About the Artists

Sheba Blitz

Sheba Blitz
Sheba Blitz

Sheba Blitz is a SL and RL artist who exclusively paints Mandalas, and her who have captivated me since I first encountered it at Kayly Iali’s Gallery 24.

Mandalas are ancient and mystical symbols of the universe. And represent the way of the “peaceful path”. Classically in the form of a circle (the Cosmos) enclosing a square (Earthbound matter).

Sheba’s Mandalas generally contain what is called a quarternity or a multiple of four. This squaring of the circle is a common archetypal image of wholeness and order. Mandalas are perceived as sacred spaces and remind the viewer of the immanence of sanctity in the universe and its potential to themselves. Used for meditation, contemplation, healing and pure visual pleasure.

Sheba was born and lives in Australia; she has studied, explored and accumulated many Art Diplomas from different art processes over the years but always returns to her love of geometrical hand painted mandala designs in mixed media. As someone who loves mandala art, I’m elated she agreed to join us at Holly Kai Park.

Maxi Daviau and Skinnynilla

Second Life Partners Maxi Daviau and Skinnynilla are both superb second Life photographers and regions designers. The Mill, their homestead region is a delight to visit, and their Flickr streams completely absorbing.

Maxi Daviau and Skinnynilla
Maxi Daviau and Skinnynilla

“I have always loved and been amazed at the creativity in this virtual world. Exploring and taking pictures has always been my main hobby in Second Life,” Maxi says of her in-world time. “I love to see what all the residents create here,” Skinnynilla – show also goes by the sobriquet Shakespeare – adds.

Between them, they produce stunning landscape images that capture the very soul of the regions they visit, as well as producing incredible and intimate avatar studies. It is an absolute delight to have them exhibiting side by side at Holly Kai park.

Terrygold

terrygold
Terrygold

“I do not like to say I am an artist,” says Terrygold of her work. “In my spare time I make photos in which at time, a quick idea – like a flash – is a starting point. I develop the idea, and the trip begins.”

It’s a disarming statement, made in all genuine modesty, by a true talent within Second Life. Terry’s work, which I’ve covered on numerous occasions in my own blog, is never anything less than utterly captivating in form, style and presentation.

Rich in narrative, unique in approach, Terry’s work is attractive, and I am genuinely thrilled to see her work on display at Holly Kai Park.

Sorcha Tyles

Sorcha Tyles
Sorcha Tyles

I confess – much to my shame – to not having encountered Sorcha’s work until Skinnynilla pointed me in the direction of her Flickr stream.

I’m glad he did.

There is a deep, personal richness to Sorcha’s work which is almost overwhelming. She regards SL photography as perhaps her biggest addiction in Second Life, and looking at her work, one can not only see why, but also catch a glimpse of Sorcha herself. Her images gracefully combine landscapes with personal studies, producing a range of art that is bewitching in its breadth and intimate in its depth.

My thanks to skinny for introducing us, and to Sorcha for being a part of Art at the Park.

Our Opening Event Musician

winston-ackland
Winston Ackland

Winston Ackland is making his first appearance at Holly Kai Park. An accomplished physical world musician, who in-world provides smiles and tapping feet with his clever original works and quirky adaptations of obscure covers. Somehow, it all makes sense as audiences relax in a comfortable atmosphere and enjoy innovative songs crafted from a blend of rock, blues, bossa nova, jazz and lounge.

In 2008, Winston’s physical and virtual lives merged when his cover of Lithium hit the big screen in 20th Century Fox Films, Marley and Me. In 2012 his cover of Psycho Killer was featured in Oliver Stone’s Savages.

Stories at the Park

In addition, this exhibition will feature a special Stories at the Park event on Saturday, November 20th from 3:00pm. Presented by Seanchai Library, Stories at the Park features readings of 100-word short stories and poems of up to 100 words, inspired by the art on display at the park, and written by some of Second Life’s top writers. The event is open for anyone who enjoys writing, and details of how to take part can be found on our Stories at the Park guidelines. Note that you do not have to read your own work if you prefer not to use Voice: Seanchai Library staff would be happy to read it for you.

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