Annie Brightstar, who curates Second Life destinations through Scoop It and various social media, poked me via IM to the fact the noted photographer Skip Staheli has opened his personal Homestead region, PhotoStudio Purple Cows, to public visits, and suggested I go have a look.
The region’s design is by Busta (BadboyHi), who is responsible for a number of region designs Caitlyn and I have enjoyed visiting (and in my case, writing about) in that past; a fact that further encouraged me to take a hop across and visit sooner rather than later. And I have to say, his work here is impressive.
The region forms a rugged, temperate island marked by an impressive spine of an undulating, rocky hill that winds from the north-west to both the south-wast and south-east in and extended “Y”. Relatively narrow, the hill nevertheless appears to contain an high-level aquifer, as waterfalls tumble from its many flanks to both form pools at its base and outflow channels that extend to the surrounding sea, breaking-up the shingle and muddy lowlands.
It’s an entirely natural setting – perhaps the best Busta has produced to date. The central hill is beautifully constructed, rising from natural footings to highest peak, the paths running it it from the lowlands all looking to have been created by the processes of wind and water erosion rather than carrying an appearance of having been purposefully designed. Similarly, the blending of mesh land forms with region terrain is exquisitely done, further enhancing the depth of the setting.
All of this serves to give the region a feeling of being almost literally transposed from the physical world to the virtual, offering visitors with the sense that they really are in a wilderness location – perhaps somewhere deep within the mountains of North America of just off part of it’s more remote coastline.
It’s a sense of wilderness that’s enhanced by the fact only two man-made structures are on the island. To the north lies a Japanese-style cabin sitting on one of the broad channels of water flowing outwards from the central hill and formed by a horseshoe of waterfalls. The cabin sits as the kind of retreat many of us would love to have; one with a outstanding morning-time view, with places close to hand – just across the water in fact – to sit and contemplate. Eastern influences are strong around the cabin, but in fact it is not a home; within it sits a small café and the suggestion of a studio space.
The cabin sits in the lee of the hill’s north-west arm, a steep cliff rising just behind it. Follow the base of this shoulder of rock, and you’ll find a path that winds up it and along the rising edge of the cliffs to where stone steps point the way to the second wooden structure, this one home to a bakery and small gallery space. It sits at the summit of the island’s central hill and upon a substantial deck that can be reached by two additional paths up from the lowlands. The deck extends out of the one of the island’s waterfalls to present a stunning view down to the cabin below.
As well following the paths up to the island’s summit, it is possible to circumnavigate the setting, keeping entirely to the lowlands. Bridges connect the shingle beaches where water flows out from the falls, the route rising here and there to pass over rocky feet as they extend to the coast. Doing so will reveal the various routes to the more elevated parts of the island and also bring some of the hidden / smaller details of the region into focus.
These details are many and varied – and sometimes easy to miss. A few of the more obvious are the the multiple locations where visitors can sit. These range from chairs and converted pallets to tyre swings and blankets at the end of piers. There’s also wildlife to be found here, but some of it may not be easy to find (hint: keep an eye out for the local perambulating frogs).
A thoroughly captivating region, perfect in its design and execution, PhotoStudio Purple Cows is not one to miss while it remains open to the public.
- PhotoStudio Purple Cows (Durandal, rated Moderate)