A Romance Cottage in Second Life

Mesh romance flower cottage by Felix in its default appearance

As regulars to this blog know I like playing with my home islands and land, frequently swapping house, kitbashing and modding units I’ve purchased to create something if not unique, then at least comfortable to me. As such I’m always on the lookout for units and builds that appeal, be it by paging through the Marketplace, visiting in-world stores or in writing about and photographing regions across Second Life.

It was whilst doing the latter – writing about and photographing a region – that I spotted a build that lodged itself in my head.

And the cottage as it appears on Isla Myvtn, with some adjustment to the surrounding rocks

The region in question was Carrowmore, a fabulous design lead by Pleasure Ò Raigàin (vVEdanaVv), as covered in A trip to an Irish corner of Second Life. Within that region, Pleasure had tucked a building by FelixvonKotwitz Alter: the Mesh romance flower cottage. True, a good part of the appeal within Carrowmore was the manner in which Pleasure had blended the cottage and its surrounds into her setting – but there was something about the cottage itself that attracted me and set my mind towards integrating it into the home island.

The cottage actually comes in a number of variants – autumn, winter, a version (Maple Tree) with a different landscape layout – and the one I plumped for after seeing it at Carrowmore: what might be called the “summer version”, which comes with the highest land impact (193)  largely due to the included plants and flowers (all of which are mesh models rather than low-poly textured faces) – something which plays in its favour for those of us who cannot resist kitbashing.

The lower floor of the cottage as it looks unfurnished

And when it comes to kitbashing / modding, Fleix has put together the perfect package with this cottage. The core of the model comprises a base that combines a grass and flower textured outer element and a central cobbled section complete with a path that passes over the “grass”. Atop this sit the circular, brick-built cottage.

What is refreshing here is that Felix has avoided baking shadows into either the building or the base; this means that while the cottage is intended to sit within circle of cobbles (so they almost form a narrow footpath around the cottage). But if required, the cottage can be moved  around on the base – something that turned out to be important for my design.

The base mesh and prim (proving the physics) as I’ve used them and some additional rock formations from the kit to provide an “extension” to the build

Surrounding the cottage is a ring of grass and moss-topped rocks on and over which Felix has placed those flowers and trees, to present a secluded setting ringed by rocks and plants that embrace the cottage, welcoming people into its two rooms – ground and upper. These are not large enough to make for a primary house, but they does make for a nice little romantic retreat or garden summer house, as I have. And with its alcoves and offset staircase, the ground floor has enough room to make it cosy hideaway, whilst the fact the semi-circular stairway is offset means it doesn’t intrude into the circular upper floor room.

What’s more, the rock formations, plants and trees are all individual, making it possible to change it up as required; plants can be removed or replaced to reduce LI, the rock formations can be moved around to create a larger space, if required. In the case of my home island, the modularity of the model allowed me to open-out the rock formations a little, reposition a couple and use a copy of the base mesh and prim to create a second secluded spot as a little outdoor annex for the cottage, the two connected by path and rocky arch.

The cottage on the upper garden among the trees and rocks

At L$695 (or L$595 for either the autumn or winter versions) and available both in-world at Felix’s store – where you can also view it through a rezzing system – and on the Marketplace, this is a superb little model, excellent as it stands or as a model ready for modding.


Hermes Kondor’s homage to the the sea in Second life

Vibes Gallery: Hermes Kondor – It’s All About the Sea

I first encountered the physical world photography of Hermes Kondor back in 2020, when he presented a magnificent select of photographs centred on the Tejo Power Station, Lisbon, Portugal, one of the country’s great heritage centres and home to the Electricity Museum (see: The beauty of steam machines in Second Life).

I was, to say the least, immediately smitten by his work: his use of lighting, colour, composition, together with an avoidance of post-processing, these were images inherently and natural captivating. As such, while his focus within Second Life since that time has been establishing the Kondor Arts Centre as a multi-facet arts hub, I have always been excited when I learn that he is exhibiting his own work in-world.

And so, while I could not make the opening at Eviana Raider’s Vibes Gallery, I was keen to hop over and visit It’s All About the Sea as soon as life offered me the time to fully immerse myself in Hermes’ latest exhibition.

Vibes Gallery: Hermes Kondor – It’s All About the Sea

For almost our entire history, humankind has had a relationship with the sea. It has been a source of food, a vast spread of blue that has called us to try to reach across its far horizon to touch whatever might lay beyond; it has romanced us with its mysteries and terrified us with it power, It has challenged our urge to conquer and master – if ever we could master so powerful and capricious a force. But, we have also sailed the seas of the world, and learned to harness their power; we have received their bounty and sought to use their power and beauty as a means to partake of sport.

All of this is very much captured in this exhibition, which Hermes has cleverly split into three individual sections within the gallery’s three halls, allowing him to bring forth specific elements of our relationship with the sea.

Within hall 7, Hermes presents Sea & Waves, a magnificent series of 11 photographs focused on the rolling power of breakers and whitecaps as they hurl themselves through the coastal shallows to batter and strike the shore. These are the kind of waves that are fearsome yet fascinating; the directly represent the sheer power the sea holds – and in a way, it’s anger at land’s temerity in trying to confront it and stem its ebb and flow; an action which is at times foolhardy: as the fine grains of sand that form the beaches of our coastlines and island reminds us, the sea is both patient and relentless, and given time, she will wear land down.

Vibes Gallery: Hermes Kondor – It’s All About the Sea

In some of these images we can see beyond the curl of wave and sweep of foam to a glittering expanse of ocean stretching out to hazy horizons of the kind that have called to us throughout time to reach towards and beyond. These views are further underscored by the opening stanza of Emily Dickenson’s And if the Sea Should Part underscores the inherent challenge offered by these waves and those far horizons.

In Hall 8, reached via a connecting walkway, the study of waves and the idea of challenge continue, but are presented in an entirely different manner. Here, within a further eleven images, we are presented with Surfer, simply stunning images of surfers taking on and using the power of waves, riding them from initial roll through to where the water repeatedly kisses the shore before retreating once more to re-gather its strength. Thus, through these images, Hermes carries us to a place where our relationship with the sea is bound within the sporting challenge of trying to master its power and demonstrate skill and artistry within its rolling thunder; a love affair between Man and wave that is again carefully amplified through the words of Fernando Pessoa.

Vibes Gallery: Hermes Kondor – It’s All About the Sea

The images in Halls 7 and 8 are utterly captivating not only for their subject matter, but in the sheer skill Hermes has used in taking them. The clarity with which he has captured roiling white anger of wave crests as they curl over deep blue-green troughs; and retained the natural blue-green colour of the troughs themselves that call forth thoughts of the depths of the oceans is just stunning, as is the clarity with which Hermes has caught the faces of the surfers. Nor is that all; looking at these pictures one cannot help but hear the roaring boom of the sea’s coastal voice and feel the fine spray of salt carried from wave tops to shore on the accompanying winds.

Across the courtyard in Hall 9, is a series of 15 images that are again utterly masterful in their framing, colour and focus. Beach Workers differs somewhat from Sea & Waves and Surfers, as there is very much a narrative flow to the 15 pieces within it; a story of the sea and its place in our lives as a source of livelihood and of sustenance – and not just for humans. To the left, on entering the hall are five images depicting the life and work of coastal fishermen, taking to the sea against the rolling and split of early-morning waves to cast their nets to seek whatever bounty the waters below might yield, before returning as the Sun lowers itself towards the horizon, and the work of taking the catch and clearing / drying the nets begins.

Vibes Gallery: Hermes Kondor – It’s All About the Sea

This is a story that continues through the five images to the right of the hall’s entrance, where the work gains interlopers in the form of gulls and seabirds, perhaps alerted by the commotion on the beach and the scent of fish carried in the breeze, and who have arrived to see what they might get away with helping themselves to. Both of these arms of the gallery then give way to the final five images to the rear, where the fishermen and their wives, their work now done for the day, have mostly retreated from the sands to leave them free for the birds to claim, together with whatever thy might find forgotten or ignored by the fisher folk.

Each and every one of these images is utterly extraordinary in the depth of life it contains, be it aboard the little boats, pushed from the sands and riding their way over the incoming breakers or the swirling, fluttering masses of gulls wheeling in to seek their share of food. Within each picture again, not only is there a beauty of an individual scene, there is a rich suggestion of sound and smell that lifts each one from the level of a “mere” picture to a complete experience / story of life.

Vibes Gallery: Hermes Kondor – It’s All About the Sea

With its three interwoven but unique elements, It’s All About the Sea is not only a magnificent celebration of the sea and our relationship with it; it is a triumphal tour de force of the eye and hand of a truly gifted photographer and an exhibition not to be missed.

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