The art of Serene Footman in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

Now open at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is Retrosptective, a selection of images by Serene Footman – and it is one I thoroughly recommend for a number of reasons.

The first is that Serene is perhaps most famously known for his creation of Furillen, one of Second Life’s most atmospheric region designs that opened in December 2015 (see The beauty of a bleak midwinter in Second Life) and which became the first of a number of designs Serene developed, generally in partnership with Jade Koltai, and mostly inspired by physical world locations. Creating these regions demonstrated Serene’s eye for beauty, detail and presentation, as well as he creativity – and these are precisely the talents evidenced in the images presented through this exhibition.

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

The second reason is that until now, Serene has consistently refused invitations to display his in-world photography. Why he has changed his mind is explained in a blog post he published on the Furillen web site; I’m not going to cover the subject matter in that post, as it is personal to Serene, and as such deserves to be read first-hand and without the filter of any subjective interpretation on my part. Suffice it to say it is a personal, moving piece.

Given this is Serene’s first exhibition of photography, calling it a retrospective may seem to be a little strange. However, as some of the thirteen images present views of Serene’s own creations, the title is fitting.

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

Serene’s style, in keeping with his region designs, is marvellously focused and – as seen through the majority of the pieces offered in this exhibition – containing a wonderful sense of minimalism in which to frame a narrative. Also to be found in some is a quite delightful sense of humour that is evidenced without losing their ability to stir the imagination as well as raising a smile.

For me, the delight of this exhibition is that each piece has something to say on life and living, whether it is through the wonderful humour mentioned above, or in more subtle reflections offered through pieces like A Hen Is Just An Egg’s Way Of Making Another Egg and I Will Wade Out, or the marvellous and moving depth of pieces like Let’s Live Suddenly Without Thinking. All of which, coupled with Serene’s superb use of tone and texture, make this an exhibition that genuinely should not be missed.

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

And for those captivated with Serene’s work, I’ll also note that Furillen itself is once again back in Second Life for a time. This also should not be missed, whether or not it has been visited in the past, and again I recommend reading his blog post about its return.

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Harbor’s Alter Ego at Ribong Gallery in Second Life

Artspace 2535, Ribong Gallery – Harbor Galaxy, October 2019

Now open within the Artspace 2535 area of Ribong Gallery, curated by Santoshima, is a collection of images by Harbor Galaxy. entitled Alter Ego, it features some of the artist’s favourite avatar characters, and it offers an intriguing walk through her imagination.

And I do mean “walk” in a literal sense: the arts is set out in s series of rooms the visitor is encouraged to walk through it turn from the landing point. Each offers at least one piece of art and these are – to borrow a phrase from the introduction to the exhibition – monumental in size. They tower over visitors, drawing us into each them, allowing, perhaps for a greater appreciation of the narrative each holds within it.

Artspace 2535, Ribong Gallery – Harbor Galaxy, October 2019

This walk through the rooms also symbolises a part of Harbor’s philosophy on art and creativity, that “the path of creation travels in one direction, then back again.”, although in this case, the walk takes us through the exhibition and then onward to an opportunity to visit the rest of the Ribong gallery spaces.

The art itself is visually striking – not just because of its physical size, but also in framing, content and presentation – so much so that individual descriptions of pieces are perhaps wasted, and viewing first-hand is required, particularly as the setting with its use of light and colour is very much a part of the overall exhibition. That said, I will admit to being particularly drawn to the two Mage images and Toxic Dreams a couple of rooms beyond them. Precisely why these images in particular caught and held my eye isn’t entirely clear to me, although I suspect with the Mage images, a degree of mythology played a part; looking at them, I found myself caught with thoughts of the shaman-like version of Herne the Hunter once popularised in a UK TV series.

Artspace 2535, Ribong Gallery – Harbor Galaxy, October 2019

With a “formal” launch at 14:00 SLT on Saturday, October 19th (having has a “soft” opening on Friday, October 18th), Alter Ego is an engaging, somewhat immersive exhibition.

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Art with zodiacal signs in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac

Opening at 13:00 SLT on Thursday, October 17th, 2019 is a joint exhibition Signs of the Zodiac, featuring the photography of Mara Telling and the 3D art of Impossibleisnotfrench (aka Harry Cover), presented at ArtCare Gallery. I was kindly offered the opportunity to visit the exhibition ahead of the opening by Carelyna, the gallery’s curator, and Harry, whose work I’d only recently encountered at Ladmilla’s THE EDGE Gallery (see: Art and inspiration in Second Life) and had immediately become enamoured of it, so I was delighted to take up their offers.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, the theme is very much about the zodiacal constellations that have long been a part of human mythologies (alongside the constellations as a whole) and the subject of the pseudo-science of astrology. However, whether or not you identify with astrology or not is beside the point here; this isn’t an exhibition related to that subject per se. Rather, it is designed to offer a combination of pictorial representations of the 12 zodiacal signs and models of their twelve related constellations.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Mara Telling

Mara Telling (Sign of Zodiac: Cancer) and Harry Cover (Sign of Zodiac: Leo) first met in June 2019 and became friends immediately. They’ve inspired each other from the very first chat and found out that they share a similar sense of humour and values. The idea for Signs of the Zodiac came up as Harry was looking for new themes for this mesh egg creations. Why not showing all signs of zodiac from the view of a mesh-creator AND a photographer?

– From the introduction to the exhibition

For her interpretations of the 12 signs of the zodiac, Mara notes that she had originally been planning on props and costumes for each sign, but in the end opt to go sans props and instead rely on just her avatar, her camera and a set of custom poses.

My own opinion is that she made the right choice; unencumbered by props and adornments, each image is a wonderful personification of the sign it represents. Some have a marvellous minimalism about them – Libra and Virgo, for example, are perfectly represented by the simple placement of arms and hands. Others offer a more evocative interpretation, as with Leo and Sagittarius, while several – Cancer, Pisces, Capricorn and, of course, Aquarius – fold into them the elemental aspect of their nature.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Impossibleisnotfrench (Harry Cover)

Harry’s eggs offer miniature reproductions of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, presented in two sizes per constellation. Clicking the top of an egg (if not open) will reveal the constellation rotating gently above a smaller version of Mara’s image of the zodiac sign, providing the link between the two.

He notes that this collection of eggs is something of a departure for him; until now his eggs have been informed by his own experiences with life from childhood onwards. As such, there has always been something of a personal connection to his work – one that actually enfolds anyone viewing it, both in terms of offering the observer the opportunity to share in his memories through an egg and, possibly, through recollections of their own past an egg my trigger.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Impossibleisnotfrench (Harry Cover)

Given the much broader canvas of this exhibition, he admits to moving outside his comfort zone. Not that I think he has anything to worry about; each egg is also captivating and, for anyone familiar with astronomy, each constellation is clearly identifiable (even when rotated to fit its egg, as some have been), making these collectable pieces, perfectly finish through the inclusion of Mara’s art.

Included with each display is a vendor through which you can purchase a set of two eggs and 2 images for each star sign. In addition, Two information givers are available for each sign; when clicked one will offer to take you to further information on the constellation, the other to further information on the zodiac sign.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Mara Telling

Presented beneath a dome of a starlit sky, the floor of which offers a familiar zodiacal ring centred on the Moon, Signs of the Zodiac is engaging to the eye whatever your level of interest in astrology or astronomy. The opening on October 17th will feature singer Lisa Brune, and DJ Jan Ross, and the exhibition will run for approximately 3 months. For those particularly taken by any one of the 12 signs, each is available for purchase in a pack comprising 2 versions of the image by Mara and the two versions of the constellation’s egg by Harry.

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Kultivate The Edge: October 2019

Kultivate The Edge: M8ty

The October exhibition at Kultivate’s The Edge Gallery opened on Sunday, October 13th. Primarily a black and white / monochrome exhibition space, The Edge features for this exhibition images from both Second Life and the physical world by aht1981, Angyel, M8ty, MTH63, John Bianna, Lena Kiopak, Anouk Lefavre, Moora McMillan, Veruca Tammas and Tintin Tuxing.

As with such ensemble exhibitions, this is a very mixed collection of art, each display offering something unique and potentially appealing to visitors.

Kultivate The Edge Gallery: Anouk Lefavre

Perhaps the most striking in terms of catching the eye due to the colour text used, is aht1981’s The Future Is Yours, a set of three portraits of avatars presented with mini interviews with each of the subjects, together with an introductory set of notes. The latter reveal the images are part of a planned larger project intended to present images and interviews of some 20 people, the interviews intended to give greater depth to the portraits of the interview subjects.

Along the back wall of the lower level of the gallery are three displays that particularly attracted me: those of M8ty, Angyel and Lena Kiopak. For his work, M8ty, presents a series of avatar portraits that are striking in their presentation and depth. Alongside of his work is the display by Angyel, a wonderful mix of landscape-style images some encompassing famous locations within Second Life and the physical world. Similarly, but equally fascinating in presentation are the half-dozen pieces presented by Lena Kiopak offering unique visions of in-world locations.

Kultivate The Edge Gallery: Lena Kiopak

When dealing with an exhibition like this, I often say that singling out one or two artists or pieces in an review like this isn’t entirely fair to the exhibition as a whole, which is why I emphasise that while I might only mention four artists here, all of the displays within this exhibition have much to offer, as noted above. As such, I do encourage those lovers of art in Second Life to drop in to The Edge gallery over the next four weeks and see this exhibition for themselves.

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A conspiracy of ravens in Second Life

Ravenheart Museum: A Conspiracy of Ravens

From ancient times through to modern tales, by way of Poe and even the graphic novel, corvus corax, the common raven has held a special – if mixed – place in the tales and mythologies of the northern hemisphere.

For some, they are seen as the companions of deities, or even the embodiment of deities – a trait perhaps drawn from their intelligence: not only are ravens natural social in their nature, they have also been known to use other birds and animals to their advantage, such as calling wolves to strike down easy kills and then cleaning up what’s left once the wolves have had their fill.

For others, and perhaps more widely in more modern times and doubtless arising from the fact they are – like their cousins corvus corone, the carrion and hooded crows -, carrion scavengers (although they are also omnivores), they are associated closely with death, witchcraft and dark arts.

Ravenheart Museum: A Conspiracy of Ravens – CybeleMoon

In this latter regard, modern-era horror stories, poems (such as Poe’s famous The Raven) films and Halloween have also served to help make this time of year the one in which we perhaps think of ravens more than we might at other times of the year. Hence why the Ravenheart Museum, owned and curated by Talus Ravenheart, is currently hosting a mixed media exhibition A Conspiracy of Ravens.

Primarily located on the ground floor of the museum, A Conspiracy of Ravens offers an engaging look at the role of the raven through human history and mythology, with seven perched ravens acting as guides. Featuring photographs, drawings, paintings, illustrations and note cards, the exhibition includes a look at the realities of the raven and a bird, its interweaving into folklore a older mythology as a harbinger, familiar, deity and reputation for intelligence, as well as their roles in lore – notably that of the British Realm – and horror (Poe once again), and even their use in stamps around the world.

Ravenheart Museum: A Conspiracy of Ravens – Edgar Allen Poe

The art – reproductions of  illustrations from books through to sketches and photographs and including a trio of CybeleMoon’s beautiful multimedia pieces – is richly diverse and presented as a series of seven themes, each with one of the aforementioned  raven guides (you can find the last two upstairs). Click on each raven, and you’ll receive a note card on the theme presented by the accompanying images. Further, several of the items presented to support some of the displays, and even pieces of the art, will either also offer a note card when clicked, or take you to a web page where a story might be found.

Elegant in its presentation, A Conspiracy of Ravens offers engaging insight in our relationship with the raven, and for those who enjoy haunting and spooky tales that might include a raven or two, at 19:00 SLT on Tuesday, October 15th, the exhibition will be hosting Caledonia Skytower from Seanchai Library, who will be reading a series of short stories in The Spooky Classics.

And while visiting, do be sure to take in the magnificent (and I gather permanent) display of Libertine Eggs. Featuring the entire collection of these fabulous miniatures by Ali Baroque, each smaller than an average avatar’s head, this is also an exhibition that really requires first-hand viewing to truly appreciate the intricate beauty in each of the 60+ eggs on display.

Ravenheart Museum: The Libertine Egg Collection

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Ani’s Gallery: new home, new exhibitions

Ani’s Gallery – Jeremynl, October 2019

In July, I had the opportunity to visit Ani’s Gallery, a new home for the art of Anibrm Jung, and for exhibitions of art by invited artists (see: Art, nature, and stories in Second Life). As is often the way with thing in Second Life, since that time Ani’s Gallery has relocated  – and in the process gained a new look. This being the case, I was delighted to be able to jump back and visit the latest exhibitions currently in progress.

As I have noted in previous reviews of her work, Ani is an award-winning photographer in the physical world who has been active in Second Life since 2006. Based in the Netherlands, she has specialised in photographing nature, many of her images captured from her own garden, and all of them recorded using only natural light, with everything framed directly through the viewfinder, and with no subsequent cropping or image manipulation.

Ani’s Gallery – Anibrm Jung, October 2019

More recently, Ani has broadened the scope of her exhibitions in Second Life to incorporate images taken in-world, and this is very much demonstrated with the portfolio of images she has on display in the Gallery’s lower level. Featuring two dozen images, it is an engaging selection that might be broadly split between landscape images and others more reflective of the art that can be found in Second Life.

In this latter regard, Ani is particularly drawn to the mesh sculptures of Mistero Hifeng, with five of the images representing his work. As an admirer of Mistero’s art, I can understand the attraction: his pieces always encompass a depth of narrative and powerful sense of emotion, and through her framing and composition, Ani adds to both as she presents pieces to be found on Mistero’s own region in a manner that invites further emotional and narrative translation.

Ani’s Gallery – Anibrm Jung, October 2019

Also evident in this particular exhibition is a talent for considered post-processing – something Ani avoids within her real life photography, as noted above. Here, she offers a lightness of touch and eye for balance and tone to present her work in a variety of finishes: watercolour and pen-and-ink; colour and monochrome. In doing so, she adds further depth to an engaging exhibition.

Located on the upper level of the gallery is an display of Second Life photography by Jeremynl. This is largely focused on avatar studies, which can perhaps be split into three groups: those featuring Jeremy on his own, those modelled by Dianna, and those featuring Jeremy and Dianna together. Sitting a little incongruously but nevertheless captivatingly among these are two pieces, each entitled Tree of Life Painting and which, I must confess, particularly held my attention due to the richness of expression each holds.

Ani’s Gallery – Jeremynl, October 2019

Which is not to say Jeremy’s portraiture fails to captivate; far from it. There are stories to be found within his studies, sometimes suggested by their titles – as with Tougher Than the Rest and I will be right here waiting for you, but more often simply by the image itself (particularly as some pieces appear to have all ended up with the same title).

I do confess to being more drawn to the images of Jeremy himself; no disrespect to Dianna (or indeed to Jeremy and Dianna where they appear together), but there is a more natural, less intentionally posed look and feel to several of those of Jeremy on his own – again, take the two pieces noted above, together with Playing and Who’s Got a Lighter?  – that offer an open invitation to frame a story around them.

Ani’s Gallery – Jeremynl, October 2019

Both of these exhibitions make for an engaging visit, and Jeremy’s work will remain on display at Ani’s gallery through until October 30th, 2019.

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