Open through until September 25th, 2022 at the NovaOwl Sky Gallery is a exhibition of Second Life art by Vanessa Jane (VanessaJane66), which stands a both a celebration of the beauty of Second Life, and also as a reflection of some of the artist’s thoughts on matters within the world at large.
Placed across the two floors of the gallery space are 26 images of locations around Second Life, all of which offer reflections of all that might be found here in terms of landscapes and similar. They encompass townscape, pastoral and rural scenes, coastal studies, street scenes and life studies (primarily and intentionally using NPCs that can be found within various locations in SL, rather than avatars).
As one would expect with Vanessa’s work, these are all pieces that have been carefully framed and focused so as to offer a single frame story; one enhanced by Vanessa’s considered use of post-processing techniques to evoke mood and narrative. For example, the painting-like finish to pieces like Orkney Croft, Mist Lake and Sunset Trees) gently calls forth thoughts of the great landscape masters; meanwhile, the more photo-like finish to the likes of The Horses, The Picnic Spot and The Bend in the Road, entice us with ideas of romance as bound within the words of the great romantic poets. Together, they remind us of the enduring beauty and power to be found within life’s passage.
However, this is not simply an exhibition of yet more tranquil and / or engaging places we can visit in Second Life. Set between the above are other pieces that are more subtle in their narrative tone. They start as subtle whispers through the likes of The End of the Holiday, The End of the Line, Aftermath, The Room, Bleak House, and reach full voice within the upper floor trio of The Lights in the Sky, The Innocents and The Cornfield, three pieces specifically produced in response to the war in Ukraine.
As Vanessa explains via her Artist’s Statement located that the top of the stairs accessing the galley’s mezzanine-like area, this is an exhibition that offers reflections on both the enduring beauty of life (and art), and also its great fragility – and the inherent risk that in only focusing on the one (beauty), we forget the inherent nature of the other (fragility), putting that beauty at risk of being torn down and broken by darker forces within our natures, unless we awaken and take proper action to avoid such fates.
To underscore this, Vanessa has called the exhibition Endymion, after the romantic poem by John Keats (published 1819, and itself building on the Greek legend of Endymion the shepherd / astronomer of Greek mythology and his love for Selene, the Titan goddess of the Moon), with the first stanza of the first book also quoted within the exhibition.
It is a poem which focuses on the idea that whilst it is easy to dream of eternal love in the arms of another (book 1 of the poem), it is much harder to achieve the same whilst awake; requiring as it does earnest travail and conscious effort (as depicted in Endymion’s journeys, recounted through books 2-4 of the poem). Thus its is only through conscious effort and action, rather than dreamy reflection, that we can truly appreciate – and safeguard – the real beauty and power of life.
In this, perhaps, there is also a reflection on Second Life itself: it is a places of dreams and the imagination kept alive and available through our daily conscious effort of logging-in and devoting our time and attention on it.
Evocative, beautiful, and personal, Endymion is thus a rare and thoughtful journey through Second Life, life, and the thoughts and reflections of the artist.
- NovaOwl Sky Gallery (Novatron, rated General)