Infinite: celebrating Indigenous Australian art in Second Life

Subcutan Art Gallery and Multimedia Centre: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Infinite

Indigenous Australian art takes many forms – rock painting, dot painting, rock engravings, bark painting, carvings, sculptures, and weaving and string art – and is the oldest unbroken tradition of art in the world.

It is rich in meaning and forms a central element of aboriginal life, the motifs, symbols and designs used revealing tribal relationships, social position, and more – all of which is noted by Sophie de Saint Phalle (Perpetua1010) in the introduction to Infinite, her latest exhibition which opened at the end of January 2022 in a new level of her gallery spaces, the Subcutan Art Gallery and Multimedia Centre.

Art is part of the main rituals in Aboriginal culture: it marks territories, records history, supports and transmits narratives about the Dreamtime. Similar to how Christians have their own story about the creation of the world, Aboriginal Dreamtime describes the creation of the world and each landscape.

– From the introduction of Infinite by Sophie de Saint Phalle

Subcutan Art Gallery and Multimedia Centre: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Infinite

Laid out in a setting designed to evoke thoughts of the outback desert, with large rock-like blocks that appear to shimmer in the heat, Infinite presents a series of bass-relief paintings and watercolours by Sophie produced in the same manner and styles as those used by Australian aboriginals. However, these are no mere interpretations of indigenous art; rather, it is a genuine homage, as Sophie notes:

My art shown at this gallery was inspired by my stay in Australia where I lived with the Aborigines for several weeks.
From the Aborigines I learnt how to find and use the typical aboriginal paints. Mainly pigments derived from clay tinted with mineral oxides Very rare is the colour blue which you find in some of my paintings.
Some colours are mined from “ochre mines” and used for both painting and ceremonies. Inorganic pigments such as ochre or rock flour is sometimes collected only by certain men of a clan. Other colours are made from clay, wood ash, and animal blood. All colours are natural.

– Sophie de Saint Phalle

Subcutan Art Gallery and Multimedia Centre: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Infinite

These are richly evocative pieces that speak to traditions, beliefs and a view of the world that is far, older than any European or other influences that have made their way to, and across, Australia.

They also stand as a mark of respect from Sophie to the peoples with whom she spent time and from whom she learned their techniques and approach to their painting as a expression of their history. For as she again herself notes: within aboriginal society, reputation is acquired through the gaining of knowledge and understanding and not by the accumulation of material possessions.

Thus the pieces in this exhibition speak to the knowledge and understanding Sophie has received from her mentors, and presents a reflection of the infinite depth of their beliefs and connection to Nature. They also offer a fascinating glimpse into a world the majority of us will never witness, much less encounter or understand, marking Infinite as much a journey as an exhibition.

Subcutan Art Gallery and Multimedia Centre: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Infinite

SLurl Details

A Buddha Garden in Second Life

Buddha Garden, February 2022 – click any image for full size

Tucked into the north-west quadrant of a Full region using the private island LI bonus, lies Buddha Garden, a “paradise of pleasure” put together by Gian (GiaArt Clip) and Havih – and a place deserving of its description.

It sits as a quarter-region parcel very much of two parts. To the north and west sits a lowland area, separated from the rest of the land by two channels of water. It forms a broad, flat sandbar of a beach that offers the kind of activities and opportunities one might expect of a tropical beach resort: there’s a beach bar (serving as the parcel’s unenforced landing point), complete with a wooden path that winds its way to where a dance floor sits over the sand. Nearby a deck extends over the shallows, while boats are moored within wading distance of the golden sands. All of which is watched over by the patient form of Buddha sitting in meditation.

Buddha Garden, February 2022

On the landward side of the beach, the water channels join at the mouth of a river that runs westwards from where it starts as a series of waterfalls that step their way down from the eastern heights. This river is braced on either side by high rocky plateaux that extend outwards from these eastern and the southern highlands.

These plateaux, together with the grassy lowlands that sit below the southern curtain of cliffs, present a very different atmosphere to the sense of fun, music and dance found on the sandbar beach. Reached via a pair of bridges, these lands are more peaceful and introspective in nature and offer hints of ancient places of worship, and for spiritual activities.

Buddha Garden, February 2022

To the south, a further series of waterfalls drop down from the cliffs to reach pools below. Their passage down the rock is watched over by a series of carved seated figures of Buddha, where the pools at their feet are open to visitors. Steps lead up to both, and while one remains in its natural state (and includes a place to sit and meditate), the other has been built out into a place to bathe within the crystal waters falling from above which in turn provide shimmering curtains that front a couple of shallow cavern hideaways.

Between both pools, and tucked against the base of the cliffs sit both a little cuddle spot set beneath the blooms and boughs of a plum tree and – perhaps not so noticeable but worth discovering – a well-like teleport. The latter will carry those who find it up to a skybox gallery hosting Gian’s art, a mix of images and paintings from both the virtual and the physical worlds.

Buddha Garden, February 2022

Back on the ground, the tops of the tall plateaux can be reached by winding path and / or stairs, one path marked by a Torii gate, the other leading past more of the secrets within the region – the entrances to tunnels and caverns that run and sit below one plateau and reach back behind the waterfalls that feed the river. I’ll leave you to explore these and what lies within them, and instead turn my attention to the plateaux tops.

Follow the path upwards marked by the Torii gate, and it will lead you by twist and turn up to where a second gate stands in greeting and the gardens continue with blossoming trees, a place of levitating meditation. Beyond it, steps climb upward to a place of refreshment together a small pagoda sitting over a koi pond and further places of meditation and relaxation, all of which sit beneath the blanket of a tropical rain shower.

Buddha Garden, February 2022

To the west, beyond the waterfalls and their short river, the lower plateau sits as the home to a further retreat located on its grassy top. Complete with pools of calming water indoors and out, places to meditate or to sit and cuddle – and even a hot tub in which to relax, it makes for a peaceful retreat as it overlooks the beach.

Should the plateaux prove a little too giddy to climb, visitors can take the stepping stones that run up the middle of the river from the beach. They end in another round flagstone offering a levitating experience, whilst on the southern bank of the river a further sanctuary sits, with an outdoor tub and shower and refreshments waiting to be shared within.

Buddha Garden, February 2022

Finished with a rich ambient soundscape and with birds and wildlife also awaiting discovery (as well as cats and dogs!), Buddha Garden offers a lot to see and appreciate, complete with secrets and touches to keep a visit entertaining. My thanks to Shawn for the LM and pointer!

SLurl Details