A trip to France in Second Life

Bordeaux, France, January 2022 – click any image for full size
On this grid I actualize the worlds I imagine, conjure my wildest daydreams, and walk a path unknown. I am here to create a fantasy for others to enjoy. Landscaping is my medium, my love language, and my story.

– TONAL (Avalyn Aviator)

I recently had cause to visit two adjoining Full regions design by TONAL which offer a rich mix of environments combined by what is clearly a love of France: its architecture, its history and its sweeping countryside and landscape.

Bordeaux, France, January 2022

Within Bordeaux, France, TONAL offers visitors a cityscape worthy of historic Paris. Here stand buildings one might easily encounter in a walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysée and the streets running back from it and to either side of its long arm. Like that broad avenue, the buildings here present shops (some spaces available for rent) and apartments above (some of which are available for rent and cleverly hidden with in the façades of the various buildings, reached via the region’s experience teleport option (if available for rent).

The streets may not be as broad as the likes of the Champs-Élysée, but they are perfectly navigable on foot and offer the opportunity to explore this city-like setting and discover its secrets and places of interest, such as the neighbourhood supermarket, the little children’s playground or the more ostentatious Jardin et Salon de Thé.

Bordeaux, France, January 2022

As with Paris, this is a cosmopolitan centre marked by open spaces and terraces looking down towards a body of water albeit is a lake rather than a river!), and fountains and statures add grace and a timeless sense of history to the setting. Unlike Paris, however, this is a cityscape market by tall medieval-like towers topped by conical roofs of a kind more commonly seen gracing many chateaux across France rather than in the heart of a metropolis. Even so, they add a sense of place here.

Placed at various points around the city are maps (some of which can be found inside public spaces and resemble oversized iPads). These provide a map of the city and the adjoining countryside (of which more below), and include click-to-teleport markers for those wishing to quickly hop around the setting’s major points of interest, such as the aforementioned Jardin et Salon de Thé or the rooftop restaurant or the grand stables, to name but three. Oddly, a map isn’t placed at, or close to, the landing point – but a wander around the streets will quickly reveal it.

Bordeaux, France, January 2022

With a westward perspective, the city looks out towards the countryside of Village des Chasseurs de la Valle de Londyn, the second Full region comprising this location.  Between countryside and city sits a large lake around which sits a part of the town far older than that around the landing point, the buildings clearly harking back to medieval times. Guarded to one side by an old (and unfurnished) fortified chateau, the majority of these aged building are façades designed to give a further sense of depth and place to the setting – which they do so admirably – although a walk around them will bring visitors to a cosy tavern.

Across the lake and reached via bridge or by following the cobbled ways either side of the water, the land opens out into hilly woodlands. Here, as the region’s name suggests, there is the opportunity for hunting, with part of the region only accessible on the purchase of the “hunting pass” (L$200 for 24 hours). I confess I didn’t give this a try, so am unsure of what to expect, but I did take the public track up and around the wooded hills, passing some of the cottages and country houses that are also available for rent here.

Village des Chasseurs de la Valle de Londyn, January 2022

At the time of my visit, it appeared some remodelling was underway – I caught sight of a couple of exposed plywood boards and at least one building within Village des Chasseurs de la Valle de Londyn was still set to track any movement of its rezzing box. However, none of this detracts from the appeal of either region or the opportunities for photography to be found throughout. That said, within Bordeaux, France, there is a lot for the viewer to rez and render, so those on more moderate system may need to adjust settings / reduce Draw Distance to a more comfortable level to assist in their explorations.

Warning aside, I enjoyed wandering through both Bordeaux, France, and Village des Chasseurs de la Valle de Londyn, so why not hop along and have a wander yourself?

Bordeaux, France, January 2022

SLurl Details

Lori Bailey and Lam Erin at Kondor Art Garden in Second Life

Kondor Art Garden, January 2022

Now open at the Kondor Art Garden, located within the Kondor Art Centre operated by Hermes Kondor, is double-header exhibition featuring the landscape art of Lori Bailey (Ishtara1) and Lam Erin.

The Garden has been a regular exhibition space at Kondor since the centre opened, but it has been recently given a completely new look by Naru Darkwatch on behalf of Hermes to present a striking new exhibition space. Gone is the central event space surrounded by a path and a space for images to be places, with a stage at one end and an additional open display space at the other. Instead, the gardens present a central events space, bounded by two pools of water around which gravel paths loop. Predominantly constructed using Alex Bader’s Zen Garden building kit, it is a space I immediately felt at home within, both because Alex’s kit is a personal favourite of mine and because the design reminded me of the open-air area display spaces I built using it and on behalf of the Phoenix Artists Collaboration.

Kondor Art Garden: Lori Bailey (Ishtara1)

This much larger design means that the garden can now easily feature two exhibitions of art, each centred on one of its two halves, or potentially a single large exhibition by an artist, their being plenty of room on the outside of each path as it loops around its respective water feature to display both 2D or 3D art as the need arises. Given both Lori and Lam specialise in landscape works, the garden is especially well suited to this joint exhibition.

I believe this is the first exhibition I’ve been to in which Lori’s art is very much centre stage. Occupying the northern end of the gardens, it presents some 15 pieces, all with a focus on water, and most taken during the later part of the day when the Sun is low on the horizon. However, what makes all of them particularly engaging is the manner in which Lori has used light, shadows and reflections, together with a very considered hand in post-processing to give us images that, while shot within the digital realm of Second Life, could so easily have been captured in the wilds of Canada or the United States or perhaps Scandinavia or northern Europe – and in one case, somewhere in the far south Atlantic.

Kondor Art Garden: Lori Bailey (Ishtara1)

These are pieces which, in terms of tone, balance and colour, capture a natural beauty that is far from the world of pixels and rendering engines. In looking at Dawn for example, it is hard not to think we are looking at a picture taken from aboard a survey vessel cruising along the coast of Antarctica (or maybe somewhere like South Georgia).

Sitting further along the same side, Remoteness, Duo and Transparency bring forth thoughts of a long walk along the banks of one of Canada’s wilderness rivers and what might be encountered along the way. Each image offers a scene so beautifully composed, it is hard not to get lost within it, whilst within others, narrative stir and entice us – perhaps the most evocative laying curled within Childhood Memories of Winter and Golden Hour.

Kondor Art Garden: Lam Erin

Lam Erin is an individual whose work I have covered numerous times in this blog, both as the holder / creator of his Cherishville region designs and as a master of Second Life landscape photography. His work is almost always immediately recognisable due to the richness of colour he tends to present – a deliberate over-saturation of the colours of the Sun – and the processing of the clouds within his images to give them an often brooding sense of presence, so often stirring thoughts of Nature’s power and her sometimes capricious nature.

This is very much evident within the majority of the 11 pieces Lam offers here, images perfectly composed to convey a mood within their setting, the cloudscapes most clearly hinting at the narrative each picture contains. And even in those where the colour has been removed, leaving us with a monochromatic view of Lam’s world, the clouds continue to speak out and frame the image and its story.

Kondor Art Garden: Lam Erin

Were I to critique this joint exhibition at all, it would be in the size of the individual images. They are pieces whose beauty deserves to be writ large, but within the expanse of this garden, there is a risk that, without close examination, they might be overwhelmed. However, this does not detract from both halves of this exhibition from being thoroughly engaging and well worth the time taken to visit them.

SLurl Details

Lana’s whimsy in Second Life

LANA, January 2022 – click any image for full size

In September 2021 I visited LANA, the rich and in places quirky Homestead region designed by Valarie (Zalindah) – see Lana’s seasons in Second Life. Since then, the changing of the year has brought with it a changing in the region’s looks, although much of the core theme  – that of letting go, freeing oneself to experience anew – remains very much prevalent, as does the balance between land and water, together with some of the individual motifs visitors might have encountered with that previous iteration.

However, where back in September LANA offer a setting perhaps rooted more within natural elements- countryside, water, a small town, etc., in its new form the region embraces something far more whimsical in nature, offering multiple vignettes that will catch the eye as one explores, set within a landscape that is very different in styling although it does retain a combination of two seasonal styles.

LANA, January 2022

The first of these seasonal elements is encountered at the landing point, tucked into the south-east corner of the region. Taking the form of a single-roomed building with hard, concrete walls, and with and enclosed garden where visitors arrive, the landing point sits caught in the depths of winter and blanketed in deep snow. The single room of the building is comfortably furnished, two of its walls adorned by what I assume to be images of past iterations of LANA / previous builds by Valerie, while a fire blazes in the hearth, encouraging people to step inside and escape the snow.

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a way out of the walled garden or the house to get to the rest of the region. Snow is piled to dither of the structure, and in hanging around the landing point, I did notice several people seemingly confused, wandering in and out of the house, and finally resorting to climbing up the snow drift to one side of it to reach the roof (with one then promptly falling into the winter scene at the far end of the building that is open to the sky but glassed-off from the rest of the room!).

LANA, January 2022

However, the route to the rest of the region isn’t that hard to spot – there is, after all a large white arrow pointing to it from the garden, together with a hopscotch game. It runs over the snow partially piled between the left side of the house and the wall that encloses the garden to reach a road set between bare, arched trees which march away westward through the snow-covered landscape, a large frozen pond beyond one of their arches ranks and cold, open waters to the other.

It is on this pond and along road that the region’s sense of fantasy starts to be revealed: two huge snow wolves – or perhaps dire wolves? – guard both the ice and – a little more aggressively – the far end of the road. Beyond this second wolf and over a hump of snow-dusted ground sits a second pond where a tall Torii gate – watched over by a third wolf – offers the way forward for explorers. Here the path splits, one arm curling back east, to where more Torri gates climb a slope to reach above the snows and a headland that runs north on the shoulders of rocky slopes that rise from the waters on either side, home to ancient ruins and more for those who take that route.

LANA, January 2022

The second arm of the path, however, continues west over lowlands that gradually open out, the snow on them slowly giving way more and more to the scrubby grasses that refuse to remain under its blanket. Eventually turning north, these lowlands are home to trees on which frost still clings although the general sense is of a place in the throes of late autumn. From a distance this low-lying land appears is if it might be marshy in nature – and indeed, a sliver of water does split it’s northern end into a sliver of an island – but the ground is in fact dry.

Closer to where the snow gives way to the grass of these lowlands, the land also points north to where a second rocky upland sits, a large bay to one side of it, a narrower inlet to the other. The way to it is hard to miss, marked as it is by a combination of the remnants  of what must once have been a huge tree and the chinthe-like dragon hovering over it on lazy wing flaps.

LANA, January 2022

Dragons are another presence here that links this LANA with that of the past. Here they come in numerous forms – the chinthe, a water dragon, oriental dragons, and I was particularly enamoured of the peacock dragon curling down to a touch of afternoon tea.

The latter is also one of the elements of whimsy waiting to be found across the region; others include cloud beds floating over a little block of apartments, the oversized plushies scattered throughout the setting. Also to be found throughout the setting are vignettes focused on wildlife and animals – rabbits being a favourite within it – that offer plenty of opportunities for photography.

LANA, January 2022

Retaining much of its oriental lean throughout – notably on the top of the headland running up the east side of the region – whilst offering a setting that is entirely different from its prior incarnation sitting beneath a fitting EEP sky, LANA continues to offer a richness of design and content that makes it a ideal destination for the seasoned Second life traveller ad those looks for places to appreciate.

With thanks to Shaun for the suggestion for a re-visit.

SLurl Details

  • LANA (rated Moderate)

CK’s Owls at Eulennest in Second Life

Eulennest: Owls by CK Ballyhoo

It’s been several months since my last visit to Eulennest Restaurant-Gallery in Second Life. However, I was drawn back following an invitation from Owl Dragonash – who is helping in matter of promoting the gallery – to pay a visit to the current exhibition, which opened earlier in January 2022.

Entitled Owls, the exhibition features a set of pictures by CK Ballyhoo, all with a common theme, as she explains:

I love owls. I love how they are inspirational to so many people and have significance in many different cultures. How they are creatures of wisdom, vigilance, fortune and also death.
Inspired by the offer of doing an exposition at Eulennest (Owls Nest in German), the theme of Owls was not a large jump to make. I’ve had a few owl pictures, taken at sims in the past, in my inventory for a long time and also objects of owls made by several people in SL. Also, my first try of making animated pictures is that of an owl flying past the Moon.

– CK Ballyhoo on Owls

Eulennest: Owls by CK Ballyhoo

Using images taken from around Second Life – either those where owls were present or where CK could rez her own – these are images that have undergone processing to give the appearance of having been painted, adding to their personal nature. Supporting the images are a series of sculptures and models of owls – some of which are featured in the images – adding to the tone of the theme of the exhibition.

While small in number (Eulennest is a small exhibition space that makes for an easy visit, with much to commend to the eye in the region around it, as I’ve previously noted), the paints included in Owls still makes for an easy, engaging visit.

Eulennest: Owls by CK Ballyhoo

SLurl Details

A trip to an Irish corner of Second Life

Carrowmore, January 2022 – click any image for full size

Courtesy of a suggestion from Shawn Shakespeare, I recently has cause to take a visit to Ireland – or more precisely, to Carrowmore, a little town located somewhere on the Emerald Isle, as imagined by Pleasure Ò Raigàin (vVEdanaVv).

This is a place to stay, chill, celebrate, perform, talk, chat, drink tea or eat some Shepherds Pie and listen to great Irish music and to taste our original Carrowmore Whiskey 🙂

– Carrowmore About Land description

Occupying a Homestead region held by Pleasure together with Evee Sturtevant and Mark Taylor (Mark42929), Carrowmore is a place where extraordinary care has been taken with its design (in fact, Pleasure is still tweaking parts of it), so preparation and care with a visit is essential to appreciating everything. As such, I’ve included some additional notes at the end of this article.

Carrowmore, January 2022

Offering something of west-to-east orientation, visits start at the proscribed landing point, located within the town of Carrowmore and in the shadow of a tall tower that once formed a part of the local castle (in fact, the square around it is all that remains of the rest of the castle, itself long since turned into a cobbled square with the exception of a sliver of curtain wall). It is here that Sir Taylor Eveerness is waiting to greet new arrivals, presenting them with a note card rich with details about the setting and its history, including its association with the production of whiskey.

It was in the year of our Lord 1150 AD, when a primal, primal, primal… we better leave that 😉 … when a great-grandfather of my family spotted this beautiful piece of land. He immediately saw the possibility of growing grain, vegetables and all nutritious things in this soil. And that was partly the start of our wonderful whiskey. You will have plenty of time to taste it later.
In the beginning, the original whiskey was not what we know now. We called it “Poitin” and I still have a bottle here in my Castle. And no, it’s not to be tasted. You understand, it’s an old family heirloom.

– Sir Taylor Eveerness, introducing Carrowmore

Carrowmore, January 2022

Beyond the castle’s tower sits the rest of the town. This is marked by a harbour on its west side, its wharves and fishing boats indicating the Carrowmore is as much a working town rather as it is a place relying solely on tourist dropping in and staying – although as Sir Taylor’s guide notes make clear, there are places in town where the traveller can rest up should they so wish! Town town itself stands as close-knit community of small businesses (the bakery and the pub understandably proving to be the most popular!) with living spaces in the form of flats and apartments above them.

The rest of the land is set apart from the town by a channel of water that gives the region its east-west orientation. A broad stone bridge spans the water to link the town with the rest of the region – although no road continues from it; instead, the eastern reach of the region is given over to pastoral countryside with many attractions within it.

Carrowmore, January 2022

This is a place where sheep may safely graze in the shadow of the local chapel while the local farmhouse sits on a ridge to the south, a place where the farmer can keep watch over his flock and care for his horses. Between the chapel and farmhouse, laying claim to a stretch of the channel’s edge sit a little tavern and the watermill that doubtless played (plays?) a role in the production of the local poitín and whiskey!

Also awaiting discovery are the ruins of the old monastery as described in the notes from Sir Taylor. Sitting on the east side of the region, they are reached by a small bridge as they sit on a misty isle of their own.

Carrowmore, January 2022

Keen eyes may also spot two towers – one to the north, the other to the south – poking their heads over tree tops. One, not far from the chapel, is in fact a circular cottage sitting in the embrace of surrounding trees and rocks. It’s a place of romance, a cobbled path leading to its door by way of a garden of wildflowers lit by lanterns floating overhead, and with outdoor seating in the form of a stone bench and little rowing boat moored at the water’s edge. Nearby, stone steps climb a grassy slope to the island’s wooded northern end, where another retreat, rich in pagan and ancient spiritual symbolism, awaits.

Off to the south, the second tower also sits within a circle of rock and trees that help form a natural courtyard before it. It lies behind a great iron gate with mist clinging to and writhing over the stones shrubs before it, giving it an air of menace. And indeed, beyond the iron gate, the door will open to reveal a pair of ghostly figures; but rather than meaning harm, they prefer to indicate the teleport disk that provides access to the tower’s upper floors.

Carrowmore, January 2022

Carrowmore is a genuinely immersive setting which has to be explored gently on foot in order to be properly appreciated. If you simply cam or move swiftly from point-to-point and rely only on the note card provided by Sir Taylor, you risk missing a lot; but it does help introduce you to some of the local character in town who – together with the static visitors to the bakery, etc. – help bring a sense of life to the setting. But there is far more that awaits visitors – such as the tower cottage described above, or the ring of standing stones overlooking the chapel and another little cosy corner can be found tucked into the ruins of an old waterside shack.

Within the pastoral side of the region, deer can be found wandering and owls keep a wise eye on things. There’s even the chance to come across one or two of Ireland’s famed leprechauns who are willing to offer you a mug of beer – but whether it is enchanted or not, I couldn’t really say! Nor are things limited to just the ground. A teleport near the landing point (look around, you’ll find it!) will carry you up to a slightly macabre location in the sky, whilst the return teleport will deliver you back to one of the two towers in the region, helping to encourage exploration on foot with a walk back towards the town.

Carrowmore, January 2022

As noted towards the top of this article, Pleasure has gone to additional lengths to add to the immersive atmosphere of Carrowmore, and as such, you should take some steps in preparation of a visit:

  • Make sure your viewer is set to Use Shared Environment (World → Environment sub-menu) – the region has a dedicated EEP Day Cycle, and it worth viewing the region under it (not the first two illustrations within this article).
  • Enable local sounds (if not on already) so you can appreciate the ambient sound scape as you explore.
  • Very important! – enable Media for the region (click on the camera icon on the right of the viewer’s top bar, and disable the music stream (if playing). Throughout the region are multiple points where media is used to add aural depth. Such media point may be triggered automatically, others by touch. To give a couple of examples:
    • Those entering the ruined monastery building will hear music and sounds in keeping with the location
    • Touching the central stone within the ring on e hill overlooking chapel will offer a rendition of (and admittedly Scottish in origin) folk song.
Carrowmore, January 2022

With live music provided by Mark Taylor in the square by the landing point (join the local group for details of events, the L$150 fee provides rezzing rights and goes towards the region’s tier), and put together with a huge amount of care and an eye for detail by Pleasure, Carrowmore is a richly engaging and highly enjoyable visit, one which – you can tell from the length of this piece – I thoroughly enjoyed!

SLurl Details

The Free Museum of art in Second Life

The Free Museum
I recently received an invitation from Haiku Quan to pay a visit to The Free Museum, an art gallery she has established and curates in the Mainland continent of Satori with a rather unique approach to encouraging an appreciation of art within Second Life.

The gallery presents a collection of (currently) over 70 pieces of art from 2D and 3D artists from across Second Life that Haiku has collected from their artists with the open intention of offering them free-of-charge to anyone who would like a copy for their personal collection, as she noted to me:

Visitors to the museum are welcome to take a free copy of each and every work exhibited. There is nothing for sale or any solicitations at all. This is simply my way of giving back to the people of Second Life who make it such a fascinating world, and so that everyone can discover the artists who are creating these beautiful and provocative works. 

– Haiku Quan

The Free Museum

Thus, the gallery presents works by the likes of Alpha Auer, Blip mumfuzz, Bryn Oh, Cica Ghost, Cherry Manga, Melusina Parkin, Milena Carbone, Nessuno Myoo, Thus Yootz, Xia Chieng, with each artist presenting one or two pieces for inclusion within the gallery’s spacious building.

Given this, the art on display is richly diverse in terms of subject, style, and artist. From avatar studies to Second Life landscapes to pieces created in the physical world, together with sculptures an pieces from well-known installations as well as standalone pieces, the gallery offers a genuine immersion into the richly diverse world of art in Second Life, ideal for those seeking an engaging introduction to art in Second Life.

The Free Museum
My goal is to attract people who never go to art galleries and never think of owning anything called ‘art’. I want to tempt those folks into taking these creations home where they can begin working their magic, day by day expanding their tastes and opening their eyes to how much fine art can enrich their lives.

– Haiku Quan

To help with this idea of presenting an introduction to the world of art in SL, Haiku has ensured that each piece available through the gallery is supplied within information / a biography on / of the artist, together with a landmark to any principal gallery / studio the artist has in-world, so that more of their work can be appreciated and purchased.

I purchase the right to do this directly from the artists, and agree never to sell their works or to profit from them in any way. And the artists are perfectly free to continue to show and sell their works as they always have. The artists are even free to withdraw their works from the museum at any time without reimbursing me.

– Haiku Quan

The Free Museum

In addition, Haiku has also taken care to ensure the generosity of the artists she contacts and the art she presents is not in any way abused: pieces are provided with No Transfer perms, preventing unfair further distribution.

I asked Haiku what inspired her to create the Museum – and her response was simple and honest:

Because the whole idea of a free museum is new to all of us. I hope it expands the market for the artists, but I honestly don’t know if it will. Nobody does. But it seems like an idea worth trying. 

– Haiku Quan

The Free Museum

All of which makes for an engaging and worthwhile visit for anyone interested in art within – and beyond – Second Life. A visit I would recommend.

SLurl Details