Update: [Eclectica] A New Dawn has closed. SLurl details have therefore been removed from this article.
Maddy (Nibby Riddler) has a eye for region design; she has shown this through at least two iterations of her region designs carrying the name of Eclectica (about which you can read more here and here). So it was with delight we received an invitation from her to visit the latest incarnation of her work: [Eclectica] A New Dawn – and we weren’t disappointed by all that we found.
For this iteration, Eclectica has returned to the ground, the last time we visited, it was a skyborne archipelago. It forms two large islands separated by a narrow ribbon of water splitting the land between east and west. Both islands are richly wooded, the trees giving rise to a lush landscape, within which are hidden Maddy’s trademark skills in presenting an environment that is rooted in both the natural and the fantastical, both intertwined to present a magical environment in which it is easy to relax and lose oneself.
From the landing point on the southern tip of the eastern island, surrounded by the vibrant colours of summer, a grassy path leads forth through iron gates, then branches to the left as well as running northwards.
The former path leads to a waterside gazebo presenting a view out towards a marvellous vignette encompassing Maddy’s love of the fantastical: a giant hand reaching down from the sky, a carousel caught within long fingers, the cups of the ride falling into the waters below, surrounding the legs of a woman forced to dive from the ride as the carousel is swept upwards, as if snatched from the grassy shore. It’s a marvellous scene, unexpected, a scene capturing both fantasy and offering a nod and a wink of humour. It is also one of several vignettes scattered through the trees.
The path north along the edge of the eastern sea is marked by pools of flowers floating mist-like above the grass. It leads the way to a gabled set of gates. Beyond these, a covered bridge reveals this eastern island is not one, but two: its northern “headland” in fact a small isle topped by an elven arched circle, a place to dance amidst the bloom of trees, flowers and vines.
Between the southern landing point and northern isle are numerous points that offer places to sit and enjoy time alone or with a friend / lover. these range from individual seats, hammocks and beds, through a fenced garden with little hints of Asia, a pool and folly, to a conservatory looking north over the waters – and more to be discovered beyond.
The garden, surrounded by a ring of trees and shrubs, feels like it has been lifted from the comfort of a childhood story and set down within the middle of the island to offer a place of peace and sanctuary. This is a place where time can be passed in reflection. Not even the motorbike and side-car parked within it really look out-of-place, but more another echo of a memory.
The conservatory, meanwhile, looking north across the waters of a small bay, flowers clinging to rocks, has a more open, social feel to it. This is a place for sitting and chatting, relaxing and just being in the moment. Chairs and sofas can be found indoors and out, a deck extending out over the water offering a place to watch swans on the water, the little ice cream carriage adding a sense of easy relaxation to the setting.
Beyond the conservatory familiar pools of flowers in the grass point to two paths. The more eastern runs to a little glade-like setting atop a shoulder of rock, a place with further touches of Asia mix with a little soupçon of fantasy in the glass-like flowers and gently floating spheres. The second path leads by way of trees arched as if to form a gate, to a Romany caravan hidden within its own encircling glade. With its gaily coloured tents pitched in the grassy clearing, benches and little beds of flowers, this has all the feeling of being a home, and place of warm safety, familiar in its bric-a-brac, where cares and worries can again be put aside.
To the west, the second island – reached by a single log bridge spanning the channel between them – is very much a place of two halves. More rugged in nature, it is initially a lush, temperate woodland , cut by a single path climbing west to where temperate gives way to tropical, the trunks of great palm trees rising skyward, while the grass gives way to sand, descending to the broad, shallow sweep of a beach.
Dominating the view is a play on classical mythology: a great figure rises from the waters, supporting a great cup on his shoulders, the Moon lying within its bowl. While it may well be the Moon he holds aloft, rather than the celestial sphere, the allusion to the fate of Atlas could not be clearer – or more romantically phrased: just as Atlas was confined to the western extreme of Gaia, so to does this figure, rise from the western extremes of this world. It’s title meanwhile, I Will Bring You The Moon, offers its romantic touch.
It’s a most unusual sight to behold from the beach and yet, within this setting, does not remain in any way incongruous. Rather, it adds a sense of mystery to the beach, one perhaps coupled by the remnants of a submarine caught in the southern rocks. Facing this across the sweep of sand, a board walk points the way around the northern headland to where a beach hut guards the estuary of the region’s stream, perched on the back of a rocky islet: the perfect end-of-day location.
With scrupulous attention to detail, rounded off with a matching sound scape and – for those who like music to accompany their explorations – a gentle audio stream, [Eclectica] A New Dawn is, simply, a delight.
- [Eclectica] A New Dawn (Kymor, rated: Moderate)