Loss and life in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

Opening on October 25th, 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is How Isolde Got Lost, by Arete of Cyrene (AretevanCyrene). It is a complex piece, a story in 14 part;, a story in images dealing with the complex subject of love, loss and healing.

Narrative in art is not unusual; I’ve often referenced it when writing about exhibitions in these pages. But with this particular exhibition, the story is presented through the chronological order in which the pieces are presented, the start indicated by the sign The Story Begins Here, located on one of the inside walls of the gallery space, then progressing from there in a clockwise direction.

As Arete states in her liner notes, mourning is a deeply personal experience, influenced by a number of factors: our closeness to the lost one; their place within our circle of family and friends and how they react to the loss; religious and social factors, and so on. In her book On Death and DyingElisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined what she saw as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A sixth was later added, in the form of shock, preceding the other five. But as Arete also notes from her own experience the stages of loss can be more complex and can extend beyond just six stages.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

In particular, the images here have not only been specifically created for the exhibition, they chart Arete’s on experience with loss (one of which also touches on Dido’s story, notably in She Found a New Home….). Nevertheless, the story here in one that is going to resonate with anyone who has suffered loss and grief.  Through them, we travel not only through the six acknowledged stages of grief, but also through the situations and actions that can both move us through them – or return us to one of them.

In this, Arete presents a simple, but forgotten fact of mourning: by labelling loss in terms of 6 “stages”, we tend to look at them as a linear progression: a series of steps from shock to acceptance by way of the other stages, all neatly in order. But the reality is, beyond shock, while we may well initially travel through the remaining stages in the order they are offered, we might also travel back to different stages of grieving. This can be as a result of a number of factors; perhaps as a result of finally packing possessions away, or clearing a closet of clothes that will no longer be worn, or simply witnessing something unexpected through the course of everyday life.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

The healing process can also be found within the images, the return to “everyday” life; the support of family and friends; the taking up of new activities and filling the void as best we can. Given the personal nature of the images, and the nature of loss, singling out individual pieces in the series isn’t easy. However, it is the smaller, personal aspects of the story – such as Boxes – or the need to talk to the one now gone (which can be a vital part of the healing process: acknowledging that while a loved one might be physically gone, we can still keep them with us through memory as an integral part of us), that particularly struck a chord with me.

Love, listen.

To understand death, she so often talked with him to find spiritual acceptance.

Her words send to address unknown:

“Love listen, I must go on…but when I laugh, I feel guilty. When I forget you in a moment, I feel guilty. Please, try to understand, I love you and miss you so much but I have to let go of that guilt. Love listen, walk with me each day and we make that day together. Sleep with me each dark hour and share my dreams till we walk on the same soil.”

– Arete of Cyrene, How Isolde Got Lost

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

There is more here as well; the images are not only unique to this story and exhibition, they are wonderfully constructed in 3D. To see the intricate layering of this, I recommend enabling Advanced Lighting Model and setting graphics to at least High. Also, do make note that the story can also be followed through a website created by Arete, and accessed by clicking the first image in the series for a link.

An exhibition of enormous depth and message, How Isolde Got Lost is a must see. And please note that while individual image are available for sale, all proceeds will go to The Catboat in Amsterdam, the only animal sanctuary that literally floats, sited on a canal. A tip jar for the charity is also available in the gallery.

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The natural beauty of Cold Ash in Second Life

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ash – click any image for full size

Leaf (Peyton Darmoset) and Julz (Juliette Rainfall) are among my favourite region designers. Their region designs of Erebos Harbor (read more here), Cloudbreak (read more here) and Ash Falls (read more here) is among the best natural settings to be found in Second Life. So when I received an invitation to pay a visit to their latest creation, I made sure I had the opportunity to spend a fair about of time visiting, and hopped over to take a look.

Cold Ash is the in-world home for the Cold Ash brand of menswear, and the latest iteration of the region has been fabulously designed by Leaf and Julz as both the home of the store and a photogenic place to visit and appreciate.

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ash

Visitors arrive, appropriately, at the store itself, located towards the north-east corner of the region. This sits on a large plateau that is typical of the rugged nature of the island and resembles a large, converted warehouse. A railway track runs past the front of the store, separated from it can a broad gravel road that narrows into a winding footpath. Both the path and the railway track form an integral part of the region’s design.

Running from a tunnel on the northern extreme of the island, the tracks to where a metal framed truss bridge spans a watery gulf to reach a southern island. The gravel path gently curves its way down the slope alongside the bridge to also span the water, this time via a low-sided cement bridge, before curling up the slope of the second island, passing under the railway bridge as it does so.

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ash

Both track and path lead the way to a lumber yard that takes up the larger part of the second island, the land falling gently on the north side, where the trunks of felled trees lie, already stripped of their branches. Wooden steps run down the slope as well, offering a way down to the single beach running along the coast. This arcs back to another set of steps leading back up to the gravel footpath, offering a small loop around this part of the island.

Which is not to say this is all there is to see on the island. The lumber yard includes a workshop where the logs from cut trees can be cut and worked, prior to being loaded onto rail cars outside. A car workshop sits alongside the lumber shed, looking perhaps a little incongruous given there are no open roads here, but it does actually work within the setting, lending further character to the region.

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ash

The main island also offers routes down to the coast. The first is another winding path reached via a crossing over the railway tracks close to the store.

Two more are to be found to the water’s edge, both wooden walkways. The first commences close to the rail bridge and passes under it to reach the eastern coast. The second is hidden from view up-slope from the tracks. However, while it offers a way down to the western waters and provides a view back along the channel between the two island, it also leads to a private residence. Be aware the security orb guarding the house is on a short fuse, so keeping a distance is recommended.

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ash

Walk along the eastern coast of the main island, and you’ll find a little hideaway made from a converted railcar doubling as a little warehouse, a wooden porch offering a place to sit.

Carefully married with its sim surround, with a balanced soundscape and a subtle use of wildlife – such as the gulls flying between the two islands – this is another marvellous setting, richly photogenic. With the look of a coastal headland thanks to the way it joins with the surround peaks, Cold Ash is another truly eye-catching design by Leaf and Julz, one that should be visited and appreciated, whether or not you’re looking for apparel; and for the men, it offers the perfect excuse to try out new clothes while enjoying a walk around the islands.

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ash

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