Shawn Shakespeare (SkinnyNilla) is not only a superb photography artist and discoverer of regions to explore, he is also a dab hand at designing photogenic settings – as anyone who remembers The Mill will agree. And right now there is an opportunity for all of us to appreciate his eye for design, along with that of his partner, Lein (Lien Lowe), as they have opened up their current Homestead region of Nelipot for visitors to explore and enjoy.
Set with a green surround of hills, Nelipot as a small coastal island, such as might be found along the Baltic coast of Denmark. Small and rugged, it is the kind of place many of us might sometimes imagine escaping or retiring to – or perhaps moving to in order to take up a new life style away from the hue and cry of the city.
Rising from a rocky shoreline that is broken only by a small shingle beach, the island forms a small hill that rises in rugged steps up to its flat top. Most of the land is wild and almost untouched – although rope marked trails offer a route around and over it, together with stone or wooden steps that allow visitors to reach points of interest. The top of the island is crowned by a farmhouse that carries a hint of Danish about its name, adding to its sense of location. Sheep graze just down slope from the house, while between it and the water, a field of lavender is being cultivated.
This is a place with a subtle sense of history to it: down on the shingle is a fragment of an aircraft wing with propeller engine still attached. It sits as a suggestion that a World War 2 ‘plane attempted a forced landing here. Elsewhere the building around the base of the hill have a sense of having been around for a good while – longer than the farmhouse, perhaps.
A further twist of age is added across the island from the beach, where is single stretch of railway track sits accompanied by a span of road. Neither leads anywhere, while a small building stands alongside both, almost like a local railway station.
A train sits on the track – but it is clear it has never travelled the line to get to the island, nor will it ever use it to leave; instead, it sits, fronted by a pilot (aka cow catcher). This points to it likely having originated in America, whilst its overall styling points to it belonging to an era that has long since passed. Quite what it might be doing here is up to you to decide; my own story for it is that it was brought to the island as a collector’s piece, but the years and the salt air have perhaps not been kind to it.
Throughout the island are multiple places to sit and admire the setting it presents, together with a lot of small touches that add to its photogenic looks. The former encourage visitors to enjoy a leisurely exploration, while the detail waiting to be discovered is genuinely captivating.
From the rabbits at the “station” to the cat on the bonnet of a pick-up truck to the blue tit and robin engaged in a conversation, these are all a treat, whilst the little cabins and old camper vans and the many bicycles give the setting a different kind of attractiveness. And while some of the buildings are run-down and / or broken, they are each given a unique character through their décor and furnishings.
Throughout all of the island there is a depth of life and – again, the birds, cats and so on, together with the sheep and seagulls. This richness of life is particularly evident within and around the farmhouse itself. This is been furnished is a homely, inviting manner that is simple but fully homely.
This is a setting that is proof that while it might might well be long in the tooth, the old adage of less is more is very much true. When people tend to cram their regions absolutely full of masses of plants and suchlike, Nelipot shows us there is no reasons we cannot have open spaces or make frequent re-use of objects and textures to lighten the render load.
It’s not clear how long leave Nelipot will be open for public exploration; when discussing it with me, Shawn suggested it will probably be available through to the summer. But, and however long it remains open Nelipot is not going to be a place the Second Life traveller is going to want to miss.
Many thanks to Lien and Shawn for opening their home!
- Nelipot (Kings Harbor, rated Moderate)