Milly Sharple’s Meanderings in Second Life

Meanderings: Milly Sharple at The Janus Gallery

Milly Sharple is a remarkable artist, creator and patron of the arts in Second Life. An artist and photographer in the physical world, she has always enjoyed art and artistic expression, particularly that of fractal art, a technique she started using in 2005.  It’s a medium in which she has gained deserved recognition: she has sold pieces around the globe, had them used as book and CD cover art and as promotional material, and has had her work used on the face of the bank cards issued by an Indonesian bank. Her work has even brought her to the attention of Salvador Dali’s protégé, Louis Markoya, who asked her to collaborate with him.

Milly was perhaps one of the first artists to bring fractal art to Second Life after she joined in 2008. Gaining familiarity with the platform, it became a place where she understandably wanted to exhibit her work, and following her initial exhibitions, she started receiving multiple invitations to display her work. She thus became immersed in the Second Life arts community, establishing her own gallery and also the Timamoon Arts Community, a place where artists could find a gallery home and like minds, and over the course of four years, she grew Timamoon into one of the most successful arts communities in Second Life.

Meanderings: Milly Sharple at The Janus Gallery

For her incredible and expressive fractal art, Milly uses the Apophysis software package, which allows her to create soft, flowing, liquid effects that sets her work apart from other, more rigidly geometric fractal art with which we might be familiar as it is displayed in Second Life. This approach gives her work a stunningly organic look and feel, rich in life and often encompassing the intricate beauty of the Mandelbrot set.

However, Milly is not constrained to only producing fractal art; as a mixed media artist her expressive range is broad and deep – and I have long been an admirer of this aspect of her work as much as I am her fractal art. Indeed, I’m honoured to be able to have a copy of what I regard as one of the most engaging pieces of art in my modest personal collection -her  Woman with Cat – hanging on the wall at our SL home. As  with her fractal work, Milly’s mixed media art couples a rich use of colour with an etching-like finish to bring individual pieces to life in the most incredible manner.

Meanderings: Milly Sharple at The Janus Gallery

I mention all of this because Milly has a new exhibition of work currently being hosted at Chuck Clip’s Janus Gallery, which opened on September 27th.

Meanderings brings together all of the above elements of Milly’s art and adds to it with a selection of her black-and-white portrait studies in a captivating microcosm of her talent. On display are seven large-format fractal pieces (with the patterns of two repeated on benches in the gallery’s two halls, and a third mirrored and inverted in the foyer that so blends with the décor, it might easily be overlooked), eight monochrome portraits and eight mixed-media pieces that are – without being in any way superlative – utterly stunning.

These latter pieces bring together all aspects of Milly’s art: her fractal work, her skills as a portrait artist and her  expressiveness as a mixed media creator; there is a richness of life about them that is utterly absorbing, Similarly, the depth of life in the black-and-white portraits cannot fail to hold the eye; these are pieces that, whether inspired by real people or their images, or have been drawn entirely from Milly’s imagination, not only capture the likeness of the subject, but offer a very real sense of their life essence. Further, these monochrome pieces share a strong sense of narrative flow that can also be found within each of the mixed media pieces, thus presenting a thematic thread to connect them, whilst their arrangement around two of the much larger (and richly organic) fractal pieces offers a natural visual connection to them.

Meanderings: The Mystic and The Flirt (with its hint of Kate Bush) two of the entrancing mixed media pieces presented by Milly at The Janus Gallery
Taken together the three styles of art present within Meanderings offer a rewarding introduction to Milly’s art for those unfamiliar with it whilst also offering a unique thematic and narrative flow through the differing mediums, making this both an engaging and outstanding exhibition.

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