Floating worlds and Dutch proverbs in Second Life

The Vordun: Pictures of the Floating World

Now featured at The Vordun Museum and Gallery  curated by Jake Vordun, are two new exhibitions Caitlyn and I recently dropped in on, and which make for an engaging visit.

The first, and most recent, is Pictures of the Floating World, occupying the gallery’s South Wing. This takes visitors in to the world of ukiyo-e, (literally “picture[s] of the floating world”) a form of Japanese art using woodblock prints and paintings which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries.  Ukiyo (“floating world”) refers to the hedonistic lifestyle enjoyed by the  merchant class of Edo (modern Tokyo) who were at that time benefiting the most of the city’s economic expansion, and who became one of the prime audiences for the art, purchasing it to decorate their homes.

The Vordun: Pictures of the Floating World

Much of this is explained in the foyer to the exhibit, via an informative wall panel together with notes on how ukiyo-e were / are made (see the image below). Such is the design of this foyer area, it is as much a part of the exhibition as the images themselves, and deserves the time taken to read the information offered. Beyond it, 20 images of ukiyo-e art are presented, each with its own information tag which provides the name, artist and date of creation for the piece.

If I’m totally honest, I’d have preferred the prints to be somewhat larger: ukiyo-e is a beautiful art form, and the small size of the works here do make it difficult to fully appreciate some of them, and having to zoom a lot can intrude into one’s appreciation of individual pieces. But make no mistake, the is an exhibit well worth seeing and appreciating – I particularly like the central themed display of five images focused on the shamisen musical instrument.

The Vordun: Pictures of the Floating World

Also on the south side of the gallery is Proverbs of the Low Countries, which opened in May. Reached via a short hallway, it comprises a single, large reproduction of Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Blue Cloak (or Netherlandish Proverbs or Flemish Proverbs or The Topsy-Turvy World, depending on your preference), painted in 1559. This is a truly remarkable piece which may at first seem a chaotic, nonsensical rendering of somewhat comical people; in fact it contains no fewer than 112 illustrations of Dutch language proverbs and idioms, offered together as a commentary on human folly.

Finding your way around the 112 proverbs – many of which transcend Dutch use and will be recognisable to English speakers (and probably familiar to those from other European nations as well) – is made possible through the use of a dedicated HUD. Instructions on obtaining this are provided on the wall of the hallway leading to the painting, so please be sure to read and follow them in order to be able to properly appreciate the piece.

The Vordun: The Blue Cloak (1559) by Pieter Bruegel The Elder

Floating Worlds and Proverbs are two considered, informative exhibitions which again demonstrate both the uniqueness of The Vordun in the art presented there, and just how informative / educational / enjoyable an art exhibition can be in Second Life.  Don’t forget as well, that when visiting the gallery, you can also enjoy the long-running European Masters, 300 Years of Painting (which you can read about here), and Winning a delightful exhibition showcasing the 51 winning entries from four years of The Arcade’s photography competition.

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