I’ll start this piece by saying I might be getting to this a little late in the day, and I’m not sure how long the region has been in its current iteration. However, if you’ve not already seen Jim Garand’s Grauland recently, I’d recommend a visit sooner rather than later, just in case it is going to change the the turn of the month (as pretty much happened the last time I wrote about it – see Grauland’s rugged summer looks in Second Life).
Over the time it has been offered to the public, Grauland has been the location for some enticing region builds that oft mix setting with art, always with one or two features that carry each iteration forward whilst connecting it to past designs – such as the use of Cube Republic’s excellent Causeway Builder’s Kit that can give you your own version of Giant’s Causeway.
However, with this iteration, we’re presented with – as the Monty Python crew were fond of saying – something completely different. So different, in fact, I’m not entirely sure show to classify it. Gone is the causeway – and any sign of water, another past constant with Jim’s designs. Nor is there any sign of vegetation.
Instead, visitors arrive to find themselves in a desert surrounded by hills that have slopes against which dunes wash. What might have inspired it – the Gobi, Death Valley, the Sahara, the Atacama, the Namib – is but a passing question; the fact of the matter is that we’re in a desert, one that offers a series of enigmatic offerings that challenge how we might think of it.
On arrival, the eyes are naturally drawn to the to the ruins that sit on the east dunes and fall towards the middle of the region. Who might they have been built by? Are they part of the the same period? The grander set comprise hewn blocks of stone, large in size and put together without the benefit of mortar, the pressure of their own weight binding them against the ravages of wind and time – although clearly, both the latter have had aeons to eventually have their way – presumably after the hands that built the ruins and lived within them had passed on.
The second group of ruins sit on a lower slope of sand and are built from smaller blocks bound together with mortar. Thus they appear to have been built some time after those they sit below, begging the question who were responsible for them, and whether the fact they literally sit in the shadow of the older ruins suggests some form of homage to those who came before?
The ruins are just one of the region’s many enigmatic vignettes. Again, whether or not they are intended to be linked together or seen as individual stories, separate and apart from the rest, is entirely open to question. To the north-east is a small encampment, suggesting an archaeology base camp, one that perhaps, when coupled with the nearby ruins, brings to mind Lara Croft on a hunt for some rare artefact.
To the south, and on the same side of the region, sits what could be something out of the pages of a sci-fi or military story: prefabricated units set-up for a long-term stay, complete with recreational facility and a helipad occupied by a black Hawk helo. Westward to the south, the dunes have overwhelmed an American locomotive, giving us a hint of some kind of post apocalyptic setting – something furthered by the graveyard of cars sitting between train and landing point, and also by the carcasses of ships wallowing in the sands; although on seeing these, I half expected a brace of white 4x4s leap over a dune, United Nations flags fluttering with more helicopters overhead as they race to the wrecks, a-la Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
And what are we to make of the giant skulls, again half-buried within the sand? What might they tell us? I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Grauland presents us with a range of enigmatic offerings that individually or collectively offer a richness of place and opportunities for photography – as is always the way with the Grauland builds. Scattered throughout the various settings are places to sit, allowing those who wish to further appreciate the setting. In all, perhaps the most intriguing of designs yet seen within the region – – be sure to catch it before things change!
- Grauland (Mobile, rated Adult)