It was back to JimGarand’s Homestead region of Grauland for me to mark the start of the year. As regulars to this blog know, I’ve tended to drop into the region two or three times a year to witness Jim’s designs and work. In fact, my last came in October 2021, a couple of months after Jim had decided to move things away from Mobile – leaving it as the home of his SL business – and give his region designs a little more room in terms of land capacity.
That design for Grauland was something of a departure from the designs we have tended to associate with Grauland, offering as it did an examination of lighting in Second Life using an urban setting. However, with this current iteration, Jim returns to his more familiar island themes in which he folds art and landscape into a unified whole.
The landing point sits to the north-west of the island, tucked into the cover of a large concrete-and-wood structure of the kind that can so often be a feature of of the region. This faces a line of jet skis sitting on the water across the beach that are available for riding around the island’s shallows. But if you opt to do so, take note that these waters form a narrow ribbon along the north and west sides of the island, so careful navigation is required to avoid bouncing off the region boundary (there’s more room to the south and east).
Those who prefer can walk around the beach to the west side of the island, passing by one of Jim’s little touches that always make visits interesting: a telephone kiosk that sits on the sands under the single light of a street lamp.
The southern end of the beach provides access to the island’s most prominent natural feature: a sandstone headland. This is a place where time has allowed the sea to sculpt it into a series of large caverns, the eroded rocks in turn ground down to form a broad expanse of sand below that that now helps prevent the sea from washing way the narrow towers and walls of rock that support the high ceilings of most of the cavern spaces – although a part of these have actually collapsed to form an open ring of stone.
Follow the sand through the caverns and it is clear the sea is still shaping them on their east side, where a table of rock extends out into a large bay, leaving their top supported by broad legs of rock, although a blow-hole has been blasted through a part of the table, forming another ring of stone.
The easiest way to see this high ground is to climb the steps at the back of the landing point structure or take the stone steps rising from the beach close by to reach a cutting and path through the rock. Both of these routes offer their own attractions, with the staircase in the building allowing visitors to climb to the roof and thence to a path the heads south over the top of the west cliffs to where a zen garden awaits – something that helps link this design with past iterations of Grauland.
Alternatively, prior to climbing all the way to the roof of the landing point, visitors can opt to walk along a roofless corridor that offers an echo of the previous version of Grauland, lit as it is by a series of coloured lighting strips. Beyond this sits a an artificial depression that forms part of an artistic statement, the second part of which is to be found beyond the zen garden, itself connected to the depression by a set of steps. Beyond the zen garden a further path winds to where concrete columns rise from the grass and rock over the top of the southern caverns.
To the east of the island, paths run between its uneven surface, one from the stone steps and path running up from the beach, the other from the concrete depression. Both point the way to the island’s main house as it overlooks the sweep of the island’s southern bay and eastern and southern beaches – the later of which forms a broad finger of sand. With its deck and pool and split-level nature, the house is open to the public and offers a cosy retreat. To the north of it, along a loosely paved footpath sits a further little hideaway for those seeking a little privacy
As a personal note, I’ll admit that I did find the sound scape – designed to represent the echoing sound of the sea within the caverns – a little overwhelming whilst wandering. Nevertheless, with places to sit throughout, including out on the water to the south (brave souls, given what lies beneath!) – so jet ski users be aware that others might be relaxing on the water – Grauland again offers an engaging and rich environment in which to spend time, together with (need it be said?) plenty of opportunities for photography.
- Grauland (Liberia Isle, rated Adult)