Art, grief, love and remembrance in Second Life

Cybele Moon: Will We Meet Again No More

No matter whom we are, where we live, or what we do, there is a constant in life that transcends all others we may share or have in common: the passing of those we love and / or hold dear.

Losing someone close hurts – the realisation  that someone we have always had in our lives or who has grown so close to us they have become a part of us is simply no longer there to touch, hold or just look at – can be devastating. that it is almost inconceivable we should ever be without them; that they will never again be seen, heard, spoken to or touched. The accompanying grief we feel is something many have tried to quantify down the years – hence the so-called “five (or seven) stages of grief”; which may have unfortunately given rise to the idea that grief is just something you have to “go through” and life will be “normal” once you’ve done so.

But the reality is that grief is a much more complex state of being. As Simon Shimshon Rubin notes, bound within grief are biopsychosocial aspects, those which the so-called “stages of grief” tend to focus on: anxiety, depression, traumatic response, our reactions to those around us, etc. But there are also other aspects to grief, what Rubin called “Track 2” aspects: our connection with the deceased, the closeness shared and emotional involvement. These are harder to quantify, because they are unique to each of us; they both define the depth of our grief and drive the more outward biopsychosocial aspects, as such they are central to any clinical understanding of grief, again as Rubin notes.

More particularly, these “track 2” aspects help structure how we maintain that connection with the deceased, retain that sense of closeness, and come to terms that while we may never physically see them again, they are, nevertheless still a very real part of us. And this in turn can give rise to moments of deep and personal revelation, understanding and even creativity which in turn help us reach an internal sense of equilibrium following our loss – something that cannot be measured by marking “stages” (in whatever order they are encountered), or in terms of time; but whish are so experiential, they are with us in varying degrees and ways throughout the rest of ours lives.

Cybele Moon: Will We Meet Again No More

Such is the case with the current exhibition and setting CybeleMoon (Hana Hoobinoo) has created at her Dark Wood GalleryWill We Meet Again No More is both a memorial to, and celebration of, the life of her partner Nick, who recently passed away, and a means for Cybele to help herself express her loss through the positive act of creativity. Stepping into it is very much of stepping into the world they shared, and opportunity to understand their bond of love and companionship, and to help Cybele remember Nick as her fellow traveller, lover of photography, gifted creator (through his cooking), confidante and friend.

From the recreation of the garden space she and Nick made at their home, through to the images on the surrounding walls, to all of the little touches – the ship’s wheel (referencing Nick’s time in the merchant marine and their mutual love of sailing), the globe (representing their travels together), the pint of Guinness… – offer us the opportunity to know Nick just a little bit, and share in Cybele’s time with him, and better understand her loss. It is also presents Cybele with the opportunity to maintain contact with her own creative core at a time when doing so is unlikely to be easy – hence why the exhibition also frames some of her more recent pieces of digital art as well as remembrances of Nick.

Cybele Moon: Will We Meet Again No More

Personal, an opening of the heart, rich in images from the physical and digital realms, Will We Meet Again No More is engaging and moving. Through it, and the words Cybele offers with it, I find myself feeling not so much the loss she undoubtedly feels, but a sense of having to come to know Nick just a little. My thanks and warmest hugs to Cybele for, respectively, allowing us this to share a sense of her time with Nick, and for her loss.

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P.S. If you are unfamiliar with Cybele’s work, I cannot recommend it highly enough; she is an extraordinarily gifted teller of tales through her images, photographs and words. With regards to the latter, I thoroughly recommend taking time to read her blog / website, if you have not previously done so.

Mareea and CybeleMoon at Kondor Arts Centre

Kondor Art Garden – CybeleMoon

June has brought with it two new exhibitions at the Kondor Art Centre, curated by Hermes Kondor, featuring the talents of Mareea Farrasco and CybeleMoon.

Having opened on June 10th at the Kondor Art Square, La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée, is an engaging selection of Second life art presented by the owner and curator of IMAGO Land Art Galleries, Mareea Farrasco.

Kondor Art Square – Mareea Farrasco

As the title might suggest, this is a collection that has a certain focus on the sea – although this is by no means the case for all the pieces on offer; at least, not in the sense of traditional water. Pieces such as Fabulous Goats and Silenced World give a suggestion of flowing waters through the wind-brushed sea of grass that presents a backdrop, and the shimmering of falling rain on which a rainbow is forming. Similarly, and while the sea does appear within it, Lavender perhaps embodies the ebb and flow of an ageless tide far more through the curving sweep of flowers that is its focus than by the sea that sits on the horizon.

However, all these pieces are deeply evocative and rich in narrative. Mareea has a deftness of touch coupled with a eye for style, angle, cut and framing that brings her images beautifully to life. Her use of colour to suggest emotion is sublime, while the lightness of her use of post-processing allows here pieces to retain a natural, unforced beauty about them that is simply ideal.

Kondor Art Square – Mareea Farrasco

It is absolutely no secret that I am in awe of CybeleMoon’s artistry. Her work embodies a life and spirituality that is is unmistakable both for its heartbeat and for its richness of narrative. Witnessing her pieces is genuinely like stepping into a Loreena McKinnitt song: you are lifted beyond the plain of the ordinary and carried into a mystic realm of light and shadow, life and dance, legend and fantasy and love and remembrance. Just as McKinnett’s music and lyrics weave tales in your mind, so Cybele’s images offer tales for your imagination.

Celebrating the Solstice, on display in the Kondor Art Garden embodies all of this in an exhibition of two parts. At the landing point and close to the stage, are eight images simply arranged on stone plinths. Each one evokes a sense of story both in terms of image and title (I confess that Listen to the Wind from the South utterly captured my eyes and heart, there is so much within it that sets the imagination alight).

Kondor Art Garden – CybeleMoon

Beyond this and within a wooded grove sits a mystical ring of standing stones and more of Cybele’s pieces. When crossing to them, it is best to set your time of day to Midnight to fully absorb the atmosphere of the setting and the beauty of the art. Again, while the focus is on celebrating the summer solstice, so too are wider tales embraced.

For example, Aine, the Irish goddess of summer, wealth and sovereignty, and who is particularly associated with midsummer, is pictured alongside the Celtic god Lugh, more usually associated with the time of harvest, and Ogma, the inventor of Ogham, the script in which Irish Gaelic was first written and who is often given the epithet Grianainech, or “sun-faced”. Thus through this exhibit, Cybele helps open us to the broader richness of Celtic mythology and the landscape of Ireland (The Hill of Tara, Listen to the Wind from the South) as well as to the worlds of fae and nature and childhood dreaming, all of which further engages the visitor in viewing these pieces.

Kondor Art Garden – CybeleMoon

Two superb artists and two very different but equally engaging exhibitions that can be enjoyed side-by-side when visiting the Kondor Art Centre.

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Waka region is rated Moderate.

Cybele’s Spaces Between in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

CybeleMoon (aka Hana Hoobinoo) is an artist oft featured in these pages. Her mixed media art is renowned for its fabulous richness of tone, balance of light and shade, depth of symbolism and – most poignantly – its wonderful framing of narrative that makes any exhibition of her work in Second Life utterly unmissable.

There are many ways to explore Cybele’s work, some of which I’ve touched upon in writing about it. However, there is one aspect that I’ve not really explored in words thus far; one that Cybele herself examines in her latest solo exhibition The Spaces Between Heaven and Time, which is currently on display the the Kultivate Signature Gallery.

I often use doorways, windows, bridges and solitude in my images as a way of conveying my impression of stopping the world and perceiving my own reality in the shifting tapestry of time.

– CybeleMoon

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

Through this series of images Cybele explores her relationship with her art and the idea of liminality – that as an artist (and indeed we, as observers of her art) – she stands on a threshold between two states: the reality she experiences rooted in the physical world, and the worlds presented through her images.

In the strictest sense, liminality is used to define the state of ambiguity that is said to exist within a rite of passage, in which participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. With Cybele’s art, however, I would suggest ambiguity or disorientation have but a small role to play (if any at all). Rather, that in facing her art, we are more in a state of enticement or longing; what we see in each piece offers us a glimpse of a world that calls softly to us to enter – a place we desire.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

There is more here as well; a nuance that is both subtle and yet entirely fitting given the state of the world as it stands in May 2020 and in the midst of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. It’s a careful, unobtrusive reminder that solitude and / or being alone is not necessarily the a contrary state of being (as some seem to believe). Rather, it allows one to give time to self – to appreciate, to learn, to relax, to enjoy, to reflect – to create. In these times of social distancing.

The manner in which the images reflect the themes within this exhibition offers an further nuanced layer to it. Take Dr. Chandra, Will I Dream for example. Through it, we can witness the beauty of solitude as reflected in the single outstretched arm and the simple, delicate pleasure offered by passing a hand lightly over the flowers in a field, while the idea of liminality sits within the title of its title, which comes as a quote from the climax of the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact, in which HAL 9000 sits on the threshold between two realities, whilst the words themselves reflect our very questioning of the nature of life.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

The Spaces Between Heaven and Time is a beautifully nuanced exploration of ideas through art – one that absolutely not be missed.

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A journey through CybeleMoon’s Dark Wood

CybeleMoon: Dark Wood and Other Destinations

Now open at Savor Serenity is Dark Wood and Other Destinations, an exhibition of CybeleMoon’s always enchanting art. It offers a journey through her world, from woodland to coast, taking us past ethereal settings inhabited by children and creatures.

Cybele’s art ranges from portraits to landscapes, encompassing magical totems, hidden groves, wild glens, fairie circles, haunted woods, lonely shores and gardens of colour, light and shadow. Her palette offers us mixes of digital and real, gently mixed with tales and stories, children at play, picnic teas and enchanted children. All of which are offered within Dark Wood – and more besides.

CybeleMoon: Dark Woods and Other Destinations

Splitting the gallery into three spaces through the considered placement of wall hangings that carry images of their own, Cybele presents us with a gentle tour of her work. Within the centre area we are introduced to her waifs, a wonderful set of largely monochrome portraits of children, together with one of her marvellously layered digital pieces that comes landscape and child’s face to present a haunting story within, and video presentations of her work.

Bordering the central area are images of her woodlands and coastal scenes, her glades and more of her children – the latter often infusing several of her images with a sense of fae magic. For me, one of the attractive aspects of this exhibition is Cybele’s use of 3D elements with two of her pictures; these lead us into the art with which they are placed, making a part of their narrative. In this, it is exceptionally hard not to want to climb the wooden bridge in from of The Winter Path and attempt to follow the trail to see what lies beyond the distant bend that sees it pass behind shadowed trees.

CybeleMoon: Dark Wood and Other Destinations

Similarly, the use of a pool with small boat and lilies sitting upon the water that adjoins The Fairy Glen at Rosemarkie, adds a depth of narrative to the idea of fae folk the art presents, the face below the water suggesting a water nymph at play in the waters spreading outward from the glen and “into” the pool.

Evocative, rich in image, colour, tone and story, Cybele’s art is always a delight, and for those familiar with it or have yet to experience her work, Dark Wood and Other Destinations should not be missed.

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The Stolen Child in Second Life

The Itakos Project, The Stolen Child – CybeleMoon

CybeleMoon (Hana Hoobinoo) is renowned for her fabulous mixed-media art. It carries within it a richness of tone, a mixing and balance of light and shade, a depth of symbolism and – most poignantly – a wonderful framing of narrative that makes any exhibition of her work in Second Life utterly unmissable.

All of this richness, depth and framing is on display in full force at The Itakos Project, curated by Akin Alonzo, where Cybele presents The Stolen Child, a series of 15 images presented within a glade-like setting caught in the enfolding arms of ancient ruins, which has been specially built for the exhibit by Akim. Reached via the teleport door in the main foyer of the gallery, this setting is not merely a backdrop for Cybele’s art, it is part of the overall theme of the exhibition, designed through its form and lighting to increase the feeling of immersion in in the story the exhibition presents.

The Itakos Project, The Stolen Child – CybeleMoon

This story is not offered as a linear tale; rather, there is a central strand of theme running through both setting and images. This strand leads us through Cybele’s images, linking them indirectly and without necessary order (although one is suggested, somewhat by the circular placement of the pieces) as they form windows, if you will, into the underlying proposition of the exhibition; a proposition a proposition Cybele explains thus:

Fairies are not benevolent creatures at all, attracted by the strength and vitality of mankind, they kidnap children and especially newborns, or seduce (for the purpose of kidnapping) beautiful girls and boys.

She continues by noting the myth of the fairy lies routed in a times past need to rationalise the death of a child, be it at birth or with a short span of months or years thereafter: that the fairies had stolen the child away from a otherwise sad destiny. Within this weaving of fable, there was also menace: children with autism, depression, or other mental health issues were at times considered to have lost their souls as a result of eating fairy food.

The Itakos Project, The Stolen Child – CybeleMoon

Thus through Cybele’s art were are presented with a series of poignant scene sit within the framework of the dome of a night’s sky – the time when fairies might be abroad more than during the hours of daylight – and within a symbolic ring of ancient walls and arches. The latter carries with it a echo of the fairy ring of mushrooms that act as doorways to the fairy realms, or the idea of the faery castle hidden from mortal eyes by the form of a hill, and into which abducted children might be taken should they not take care.

That central strand running through the images – and the exhibition as a whole – takes the form of The Stolen Child, written in 1886 by by William Butler Yeats, who was also captivated by the entire mythology of faeries in Irish mythology. Through the words of his poem, we witness the bewitching song of the faerie folk, calling to children, tempting them away…

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

The Itakos Project, The Stolen Child – CybeleMoon

Cybele takes lines and words contained within the poem as titles for each of her pieces. Thus, each image forms that window I mentioned above, a glimpse into a scene, one that is often double-edged. On the one hand, it may seem innocent and rich in joy or tranquillity: young folk running through a meadow; a view across rolling hills at twilight while sheep graze; the innocence of blowing into a dandelion. On the other, the titles of the pieces hint at the darker element of fae intent: the stealing away of children, of leaving mothers bereft, to deny the young that chance to see sheep grazing at twilight or know the comforts of home and hearth, their young lives having been swept away with the promise of dances by moonlight in places forbidden by their ever-anxious parents.

To further accompany the exhibition, Cybele also provides a short story, together with additional images, that can be found on her (always enchanting) website. Also presented with the story and images is an audio recording of the marvellous Loreena McKennitt, who put the words of The Stolen Child to music. I’ll leave you with a video of the song from one of Ms. McKennitt’s live performances, and the note that this is a truly engaging and evocative exhibition; rich in narrative and atmosphere, and absolutely not to be missed.

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  • The Itakos Project (ATL, rated Moderate) – remember to take the teleport door in the gallery’s foyer to reach the exhibition!

Focus Gallery in Second Life

Focus Magazine Gallery

I recently received a couple of invitations to visit the new Focus Magazine Gallery, one from CybeleMoon, who is their inaugural Featured Artist exhibiting in the main gallery, and also from Angela Thespian, Editor of Focus Magazine.

The main gallery occupies the upper floor of one wing of a multi-purpose building located within a sky platform designed to resemble a city-space. With the use of projected lighting, it is an ideal environment for displaying 2D – and is especially finely suited to CybeleMoon’s (Hana Hoobinoo) marvellous art-as-stories, the bright, modern lines of the gallery with the muted cream tones perfectly compliment the dark tones and depth of light of Cybele’s art.

Focus Magazine Gallery: CybeleMoon

The exhibition accompanies a feature article on Cybele in the June issue of Focus Magazine that makes for excellent reading for those not familiar with Cybele herself, offering rich insight into the influences on her life and art. It goes a long was to explaining why I am a confirmed admirer of Cybele’s work; while her art far outstrips anything I could hope to achieve, we nevertheless share common themes of interest: Celtic mythology, the attraction of certain landscapes: misty glens, high moorland fens, remote tors and the beauty of light caught between the branches of trees; the muse of music – notably Ennio Morricone (perhaps the single most gifted composer of the 20th century), James Newton Howard and Klaus Badlet.

But it is her art, first and foremost that attracts me; the richness of tone, the mixing and balance of light and shade, the symbolism and – most poignantly – the depth of narrative. As such – and as I’ve often said, her art is not to be missed, and at Focus, she presents a broad portfolio of her work that offers a superb introduction for those not familiar with her work, and an engaging  makes a visit more than worthwhile.

Focus Magazine Gallery: Naema

Tucked into a corner across the central area of the platform (which was in a state of flux when I visited, being a green park the first couple of times I dropped in earlier in the week, then sprouting a drive-in movie theatre when I dropped in on Saturday – a sign that this is an evolving setting) is the FAIR gallery – for Focus Artists In Residence programme. Split between two floors, this offers four exhibition spaces which for June feature the art of Naema (mojosb5c), Red Fire (RobinLeia), Tig (tigggg) and Angela herself.

All four present art focused on avatar studies, but the work is so richly various in style and approach that the visitor doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the volume of pieces on offer. These are four artists who individually have a depth of style that is attractive to the eye, and I found it somewhat refreshing to see a gallery featuring male self-portraits as an Artist In Residence exhibit; not that this doesn’t happen – just that it seems at times to be rare.

Focus Magazine Gallery: Red Fire

But I confess it was perhaps Red Fire’s work that most deeply attracted me. Incorporating that subtle balance of light and dark, often carrying a fantasy / fantastical theme, and with that all-important narrative subtext, I found Red’s art utterly captivating.

With strong roots in the arts community through the magazine and it sin-world group – Too Sexy For This Group (TSFTG) -, and with the perspective of using the main gallery space to offer additional focus on their featured artist for each issue, of the magazine, Focus Magazine Gallery promises to make for a fascinating – no pun intended – focus for future visits.

Focus Magazine Gallery: Tig

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