Enjoying some Snow Falls in Second Life

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls – click any image for full size

It’s been a while since we’ve visited a region design by Elyjia (Elyjia Baxton) and Brayan Friller (Brayan26 Friller), so when Shakespeare passed me the LM to Snow Falls, we were delighted to hop over and explore.

As the name suggests, this is a winter region, a Homestead designed to look like a small island sitting within a bay of icy-looking water. Clouds scud across the sky, as if in a hurry to get somewhere, remaining overhead just long enough to drop snow as they scurry on their way. Or perhaps the falling flakes are actually snow blown free from the surrounding high mountain peaks, then left to find their way down to the ground as the wind set them free.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

A cobbled waterfront sits on the shoulders of neatly lain bricks, the edge guarded by tall railings set between brick pillars to avoid the risk of anyone falling into the frigid waters below. This little lane – it is barely more than that – is  home to a nest of little businesses that have perhaps seen busier times as they look out across the water (these actually offer gacha resales for those interested).

To the north, just beyond one set of gates guarding the shops, the land climbs up to where a barn and chapel occupy the hilltop, a tall water tower rising between them. the blanket of snow is rutted by the tracks left by an old flat-bed truck they appears to have been puttering back and forth – perhaps delivering Santa and his gifts to the barn.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

A second set of tracks at the foot the hill lead to what might be the farmhouse associated with the hilltop barn.  Cats are playing close by, outside another barn while a horse looks on.

Go south along the shop fronts to the second set of gates and the land again opens up, snow-laden fir trees pointing the way towards a small stone bridge connecting to one of three further islands making up the region. It is home to a pavilion offering a break from the weather, and which is watched over by the lighthouse sitting on the neighbouring small island.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay – click any image for full size

This is a flat-topped square of rock rising from frigid waters, the finger of the lighthouse giving fair warning that the waters around the rock can be dangerous – a fact underlined by the wreck of a trawler lying close by, deck canted over, ice forming around it.

The remaining island lies to the north, close to the farm. A single, empty cabin sits on it, a sail boat close by suggesting it might occasionally see use.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

For those seeking places to relax and appreciate the views, there are a number to be found – in the Pavilion, in a couple of arbours, out on the water, courtesy of a rowing boat – and even up on a couple of balloons floating above the farm, as well as on benches to be found on the waterfront outside of the shops and scattered around the region in the snow.

There are one or two small rough edges to the regions – the odd floating tree or snowman – but nothing that really interferes with the overall lay of the land or the opportunity for taking photos. For those who do enjoy photography, the regions a Flick group for sharing pictures.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

All told, another picturesque region by Elyjia and Brayan, and well in keeping with the time of the year in the northern hemisphere.

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Exploring Dagger Bay in Second Life

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay – click any image for full size

Dagger Bay offers visitors a taste of Bruges and the Flemmish region of Belgium. A full region using the full 30K LI allowance, it has been designed as something of a team effort, led by region holder  Jaysun Dagger,  and it is a joy to visit and see.

We invite you to visit the beautiful Village of the Beguinage of Bruges and surrounding countryside. Please enjoy a walk on the forest path or relax in the coffee-house along the canal with a snack or something to drink.

– Dagger Bay About Land

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

A visit begins on the north side of the region, close to a bridge linking it with South Haven Bay, a Homestead region that appears to be an extension of Dagger Bay. As it also appears to be the location of private homes, exploring it should be taken with care to avoid trespass.

A second bridge spans one of the canals mentioned in the region’s About Land description, leading the way via grand gateway possibly once belonging to a manor house, to a gardened courtyard. What were once most likely outhouses lining two sides of the courtyard have been converted into places of business: a museum, a tea house, a studio, together with a cosy apartment, some of which have large modern windows cut into walls to offer views out over the water between the regions. Facing the gateway across the courtyard with its free-growing flowers and grasses, lies the manor house, now a residence on its own, but with the family chapel still adjoining it.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

The grounds of this white-walled house and its outbuildings is neatly proscribed by more canals, along  which stand the tall, high gabled town houses of the kind anyone who has visited Bruges will recognise. The grandest of these suggest they were once the homes of wealthy merchants who kept goods in the cellars under them, wooden doors just above the canal waters providing a means of them to be easily moved between storage and barge.

Beyond the town houses to the south, the land opens out. Broad waterways run through the middle of the region, the water breaking over weirs between low-lying islands. Wild looking, and rich in autumn’s colours at the time of our visit, these central islands can be reached via footbridge or a ford (do take note of the warning on the fallen sign alongside the ford!). Reaching these islands demand an exploration of the rest of the lands.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

This can be down by heading east from the landing point, along the shoreline separating the two regions. A cobbled path leads the way around a rocky hill that itself offers a look-out point across the region. It converts to a gravel path running between tall trees to where another brick bridge that carries it over another water channel.

From here, explorers have a choice: continue to follow the path to the imposing house occupying the south-east corner of the region, or take a right turn where the wooden fence marking one side of the path end, and thus find the way through the middle of the region, hopping from island to island.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

The big house doesn’t appear to be private property – there were no visible warnings as we approached it – but care should probably be taken in case it is. Certain its name – The Cloister – has a suggestion of quietness and privacy about it.

For those not wishing to risk trespassing, the path passes around the south side of the house, below the hight brick walls, to meet with a pair of bridges spanning the widest water channel cutting into the region. These lead the way to an imposing pavilion, screened by trees and with sheep and horses grazing peacefully around it. Furnished in an 18th century style, it has the feel of a refined summer-house offering a place to sit and appreciate the region, perhaps over a little tea.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

Fabulously designed and laid-out, albeit it with a couple of rough edges that could be smoothed out, Dagger Island is a joy to visit; a marvellous palette of colour and design to explore, photograph and enjoy.

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Dropping into Sisi’s gallery in Second Life

Sisi Biedermann

Sisi Biedermann is a prolific and exceptionally talented artist. Her work is quite unlike art produced within Second Life or uploaded and exhibited in-world. In a sense, thanks to Sisi’s imagination, style, and rich use of colour and ideas, to me it straddles the two. So many of her pieces could depict settings and situations waiting to be created in-world, whilst all offer doorways into fantastical worlds that come to life as virtual places within our imaginations.

As I’ve noted before, Sisi’s work is broad-ranging and so skilfully executed, it is possible to become lost in her techniques (which, I’d hazard a guess mix both traditional and digital approaches), so I was delighted when Caitlyn and I had the opportunity to visit Sisi’s gallery in-world to view some of her most recent work, which went on display at the start of November 2018.

Sisi Biedermann

Sisi notes her art and her time in Second Life are closely intertwined, and not just because of the numerous exhibitions in which she participates:

I joined Second Life in 2007, and back then I never realized how much this would mean to me. I started taking photos in Second Life in 2008, and have developed my style ever since.

Back then I had just started painting with acrylics after a very long break where I raised my children and looked after my family and my work. Today, I have painted several hundred paintings, and I still get a lot of inspiration from nature, second Life and northern islands such as Faroe Islands and Iceland.

All this brings me to where I am today and I hope you will enjoy my pictures.

– Sisi Biedermann on her art.

Sisi Biedermann

On offer at the gallery are around 50 of Sisi’s paintings, each one of them stunning in their colours, composition and presentation. Where a number of her recent exhibition have perhaps leaned towards her animal and wildlife images, this collection focuses more on her fantasy work and human studies, touched with elements of the mystic and science fiction in places.

Every single piece on offer is testament to Sisi’s skill; each one unique and captivating. So much so, that picking out a single piece from this collection is unfair; but I admit there is one piece in particular that completely took away my breath.

Perfectly placed on the upper floor stairwell, and passing unseen until visitors make their return journey to the lower levels, is The Evil Wizard, and it is quite the most stunning painting of the late Heath Ledger in what was perhaps his most remembered role: that of The Joker in The Dark Knight. The positioning of this piece means that you cannot fail to immediately be mesmerised by such a captivating image of Ledger as The Joker.

Sisi Biedermann

A truly striking gallery, and not one to be missed.

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A trip to 18th Century France in Second Life

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte – click any image for full size

Magritte is a two-region estate – Full (using the full 30K allowance) and Homestead – offering Second Life residents the opportunity to travel back in time and participate in the life of the people of southern France in the 1750s, just over half-way through the reign of Louis XV.

Designed by Benoit de Montgelas (ZeustheImmortal) and Florens de Montgelas (EganObelius), the town and noble houses here are said to be located close to the town of Bergerac, a sub-prefecture of the Dordogne. The introductory notes for the estate point out that the south-west of France was somewhat independent of the king’s rule (in the time of Louis XIII, some of the nobility here had even tried to separate from the rest of France), and there was also much rivalry between families and houses, all of which makes for a rich backdrop for potential role-play.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

In terms of the layout, most of the estate reflects the wealth of the region: the houses of the wealthy and landed are proud and expansive, encompassing formal gardens, high walls presenting an air of aloft privacy as they face one another across wide, cobbled boulevards.

The largest of these fine houses sits to the south, forming a grand estate, Maison du Printemps. Modelled in the style of Robert de Cotte, this is a private setting  – one of several in the estate, so do be careful to avoid trespass. However, it sits on land open to visitors, where horse riding and archery are both available. The horse riding is available to most types of horses available in Second Life, and championship races and fox hunts are announced through the estate’s role-play group. The archery system can be used with all types of range weapons – although obviously, it is preferred that weapons are kept to the period, there is also a request that the weapons available from the estate’s blacksmith, operating out of dock-side marketplace, are used.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

Role-play in the region is open to anyone wishing to join, and roles can be among the aristocracy, the bourgeois or the peasantry. Details of RP are available from the information centre at the landing point. So too are period outfits for those who don’t have them – simply join the estate’s group and take either the male or female outfit and collect the Out Of Character (OOC) tag also available to make it clear you are just visiting.

The town and docks, located to the west of the estate, stands in strong contrast of the grand houses of the nobles. Here the building are huddled together, clustered around the docks, almost medieval in style. This helps to give the town a busy feel, and is entirely in keeping with the period, where many towns hadn’t really changed too much over the years when compared to the fineries of architecture afford by the wealthy.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

As well as the horse riding and archery, fishing can be had within the estate and – for the nobles, perhaps – there are also formal dances and, the estate’s notes offering the following:

The “Salon blanc” is a ballroom for concerts, banquets and dancing. Festivities will be announced in our groups.
If you wish to host your own event, like a ball or concert, please contact the Barons for further information and planning.

In addition, a pavilion on the southern estate offers a place where a pleasing rest can be had following a walk under the trees, complete with a view across the river to Margitte.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

There are perhaps a couple of small incongruities in the estate; for example, the docks are home to a sailing vessel that might actually have found it a little difficult navigating this far up the Dordogne (there’s also a second lying a little off-shore as well). But this is Second Life, and a little license is allowed in how ideas are presented, and the docks do help add character to the town.

Overall, the estate is genuinely photogenic, and during my visit there were resident players to be found (OOC visitors are encouraged not to interact in open chat but keep questions, etc., to IM). I’d certainly like to thank Le Baron de Magritte for his gracious hospitality during my time at the estate, and for asking after my well-being.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

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Blue Orange: adventures in art in Second Life

Blue Orange

It’s been nigh on a year since my last review of an exhibition at Blue Orange gallery, the music and arts venue in Second Life curated by Ini (In Inaka). Part of the reason for this was that the last exhibition at gallery I covered seemed to be drawn out over an extended period, and then the gallery was reported as being closed for re-building. However, I hopped over recently out of curiosity to find it once again open for business – and the rebuild has left a visit feeling less like a trip to a gallery and more of an adventure of discovery.

The familiar subway landing point is still present – but now with a second platform on the far side of the track, the first indication of changes as ghostly trains roar between the tunnels at either end of the station. The familiar music venue lies at the end of the tiled hall leading away from the platform, a hall displaying images by various photographers taken whilst visiting Blue Orange.

Blue Orange: Daze Landar

From here – or earlier, if you opt to walk along the platform to the doors labelled Art Corner – the adventure begins, as the Art Corner can be accessed via a hole in the wall of the club. This route leads visitors first to the Library. Inspired by The Colour of Pomegranates, a 1969  Soviet arts film directed by Sergei Parajanov, this is a surreal place with unfinished walls, against which books are pinned, with more floating in the air. Each book offers a web link to a writer or poet’s website where the given story or poem can be enjoyed.

Beyond this lies an assortment of halls, some connected directly to one another, others reached via doors or through connecting passages (including the second platform), still others reached via stairs and ladders or by actively jumping down well-like holes. Within each of these spaces art can be found.

Blue Orange: Wakizashi Yoshikawa

At the time of my visit, this included 2D photography and art by Grady Echegaray, Harbor (Harbor Galaxy), Natalia Seranade, Gitu Aura, Thea Maiman, Daze Landar (DaisyDaze), and Ina herself.  3D work by Kimeu Korg (Kimeu) and Bryn Oh (the latter reached via the stairs behind the club’s DJ area) is also to be found, while Wakizashi Yoshikawa and Aïcha (Tubal Amiot) present a mix of 2D and 3D art.

Finding your way around the art spaces is, as noted, something of an adventure; confusing in places (are you supposed to go through the blue door and then drop down to a space apparently between the exhibition halls?), but definitely worth the time taken to explore and discover.

Blue Orange: Gitu Aura

I’m not sure if the gallery will feature a changing roster artists, or whether some of the halls are intended to offer permanent spaces in which artists-in-residence will offer different exhibitions of their work – Bryn Oh’s space, for example, now appears to be a permanent fixture within Blue Orange.

However, such questions are secondary to the time spent in explorations here: the art is rich and diverse, and the nature of the gallery’s halls means that each corner or stair can lead to a pleasing discovery for any lover of art in Second Life. However, when visiting do make sure you have enabled Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) on your viewer (Preferences > Graphics), in order to ensure you see all of the art as intended.

Blue Orange

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Somewhere in Time in Second Life

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

Somewhere in Time is a full region held by Quinn Holsworthy (Zoey Drammond), who also lead the team responsible for landscaping it. In keeping with the time of year in the northern hemisphere, the region offers a winter setting, rich in snow, which covers the ground and clicks to rocks and trees even as more swirls down from the pastel sky overhead.

Located just off the centre of the region, towards the west side, the landing point sits on the low-lying portion of the region, a place where snow-dusted terraces and flagstones surround a frozen pond ripe for ice skating  – as demonstrated by the penguins enjoying themselves on the ice. Wooden pergolas line two sides of the ice, while tall cliffs rise from the south side, crowned by the steel girders of a rail track.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

This track, bearing the weight of a steam train and its carriages, curves to the east and to one of the two tunnels marking its extremities. The tunnel occupies one side of a broad, rocky plateau, home to a white-walled chapel surrounded by a copse of fire trees. A finger of rock extends back inland from this plateau, forming another wall partially enclosing the ice rink. With a path winding down to the rink and its pergolas, this rocky finger is home to a social area lit by lanterns and warmed by braziers.

Lanterns are something of a motif for the region: more can be found floating among the trees or over the waters in places, more usually tacking the form of small hot air balloons bearing naked flames which presumably help keep them aloft.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

To the north of the region water flows freely through the landscape and trails wind through the trees, some  rutted and snow-bound, others bare dirt, connecting cabin to cottage to barn. Wooden platforms step down to the water’s edge. To the north-west, one of these paths rises to where a large house sits, a wrought iron fence guarding its snow blanketed garden.

All of this barely scratches the beauty of the region and the attention to detail paid in its design – those who have visited Quinn’s region of SilentRane (read here for more) will only be too familiar with her attention to detail. There’s the Christmas tree farm offering warm beverages (albeit with cars laden with trees driving towards it, rather than away from it as one might expect), the look-out point up towards the train-bearing cliffs, the deer, the horse-drawn sleigh awaiting couples, and so on.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

The amount of snowfall in the region can impact performance when exploring – in places I found my FPS bottomed-out at under 4 with shadows on, and didn’t climb too much higher with shadows and ALM disabled, so do take this into consideration when visiting. However, there is no doubting the photogenic quality to Somewhere in Time, and those taking photos are invited to submit them to the Somewhere in Time Flickr group.

Perfect for the season, picturesque, and with an imaginative design, Somewhere in Time makes for an engaging visit.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

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