Vally Lavender opened the latest iteration of her ValiumSL region to group members at the weekend. Once again designed by Dandy Warhlol (Terry Fotherington), the region this time takes us on a trip to the far east focused on Indonesia, but with hints of the broader region as well as a twist of Africa.
I came across the phrase ‘sacred spaces’ today and realized it is what is being created at ValiumSL, as we speak.
Unfortunately, we all live in a real world that’s both astonishingly beautiful and horrifically cruel, and having a “sanctuary” can be as vital as breathing. I have found mine at Suaka and I hope you will feel a sense of peace when you visit here.
– Vally Lavender, describing the creation of the new ValiumsL region design
The title of the region – Suaka – is the Indonesian word for sanctuary / haven (and also asylum or harbourage). Whichever way you opt to translate it, it amounts to a place of rest and respite. Hence why, in a change from the usual for the region, the setting will not be open the the general public, but remain available only to ValiumSL group members (joining fee L$395).
While I have no wish to see the setting overrun by visitors, given it is intended to be a place of sanctuary and rest, I have to say that it is as near a perfect blend of setting and idea I’ve witnessed.
In terms of the design, the general layout is suggestive of a coastal area, a place where an island sits cupped within a shallow bay – shallow enough for an old coaster to have run itself aground and wind up a part of the local scenery. A number of large rock formations rise from the waters add a sense of the broader region – similar outliers and domed islands can be found in the Philippines and along the coasts of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand – all of which embody elements of Buddhism and Hinduism – elements that can also be found within the setting.
The landing point may be set within a Japanese style structure, but it is a place that fits within the overall theme for the region exceptionally well, with the tribal bells, candles and lanterns very much suggesting a place of retreat and peace. Similarly, whilst the elephants down on the beach to the north might be from the wrong continent, they nevertheless fit the setting perfectly and add to the sense of tranquillity to be found within it.
To offer a step-by-step description of Suaka would be to miss the point: this is a place to be discovered through exploration, as the many settings and places it has to offer each present its own sense of retreat and peace. However, should you opt to visit, do please keep in mind that Vally has a private residence located in the south-west of the region, the surrounding curtains of rock designed to gently enforce the fact that it is not open to the public.
Dandy’s landscaping can be heavy on meshes and unique textures which can in turn have an impact on viewer performance when running with multiple bells and whistles enabled. However, they are always highly photogenic and engaging, making them well worth the time needed to explore and appreciate. And I have to say, with Suaka, he has, with Vally’s help, created something very special and more than worth the group joining fee.
My thanks to Vally for the invitation to drop in and explore, and to Shawn for the extra landmark.
- Suaka (ValiumSL, rated Moderate)