Memories, Friendship, Love, and Art in Second Life

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

Terrygold has always been and complex and expressive artist, her work often touching on matters of politics, ecology, the environment and more, her installations often a treatise of a theme intended (and succeeding) in getting the grey matter going. Some of her more recent works – Empty Chairs, Rain, I Would –  have contained autobiographical elements and reflections on life.

Such is the case – if only in part, perhaps – with My Friend, an installation which opened on May 20th. Given that they are somewhat autobiographical, these more recent installations can be difficult to follow; not because the narrative is particularly confusing, but simply because the subject matter is so personal. Such is the case with My Friend; but also, like Empty Chairs, Rain, and I Would, it has a message that can resonate deeply.

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

However, before getting into the installation itself, a quick detour into viewer settings. Terry’s work relies heavily on ambience, and the local environment is an important part in My Friend, so make sure you have your viewer set to Use Shared Environment (World → Environment →), and that Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is enabled (Preferences → Graphics). Terry also advises the Shadows are set to Sun/Moon+Projectors, which can place an additional render load on a system; however, as this appears to be for the projected lights – which work just as well with just ALM enabled, so don’t fret if your system cannot hand Shadows. For the benefit of other, do please remove any facelights.

The installation combines three elements – a story presented in text, 2D images, and 3D dioramas, which in turn are combined into three parts. In the first, the story and images continue the broader narrative found in Terry’s earlier instalments, the narrative mixing with images to present the opening idea of how life can be shaped by memories and dreams. From here, on turning a corner, the story segues into a different narrative, one which may well leave the more autobiographic elements behind. It deals with reflections and memories of a lost friendship – and what might have been a first, and ultimately unrequited / lost, love. Finally, and on the upper level of the installation, we are invited to share in some of the memories that form recollections of that friendship.

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

The darkened environment reflects both the subtext of dreams used to open the installation and the fact that for many of us, memories most vividly come at night, in the darkened period between the lights going out and sleep arriving, leaping out unbidden. Here, the darkness of the setting causes the images Terry uses to illustrate her story do much the same: their  muted colours leaping from wall to eyes, reflecting that way in which those memories mentioned above flash into being.

In travelling through the art and story, we are drawn into a tale of a precious friendship held by one person towards another, and the mixing of positive and negative emotions that so often ebb and flow through the interactions which mark that friendship, and its eventual – perhaps inevitable – end. I don’t want to spoil the story by saying too much; however, there are elements throughout that will doubtless echo with us as we progresses through the lower level – for who has not had a certain friendship / love that has become framed by regret? What I will note is that all of the images presented have been created in Second Life and sans post-processing of any description, instead relying entirely on the available environment settings.

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

At the end of the story, two round openings offer access to a stairway leading to the upper level and a parkland sitting in darkness, pools of light illuminating little vignettes reflective of the story below (most notable the two bicycles).

Exactly how autobiographical the friendship elements within the My Friend might be is not for me to say; they could just as easily be born of the imagination. That is for Terrygold to reveal (or not!). But taken as a whole, My Friend is an evocation and nuanced story in both art and words.

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Terrygold’s Crack in Second Life

Terrygold: Crack, July 2022

Drug and alcohol abuse among you people – teenagers from 13 or 14 upwards – has long been a problem. So much so that today within many western countries, it scarcely appears to be on the radar of politicians, who instead prefer to point their fingers and rabble-rouse about imagined “evils” facing their countries from -*horror* – refugees seeking sanctuary or – *gasp* – the terror of equal rights for women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Terrygold: Crack, July 2022

In Europe, studies have shown that while not rampant, substance abuse – including the use of tobacco – as a whole has been increasingly found among children below the age of 15 (per the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)).

Much of this has been put down to “experimentation”, although peer pressure has also been noted as a factor, as has the fact that in terms of illegal drugs, some dealers have taken a leaf out of the tobacco advertising playbook from several years ago, but “promoting” their wares to younger consumers.

Further, while many reports note that such experimentation / engagement with alcohol and drugs in particular has tended to be among younger male teenagers, the EUCDDA studies from 2007 onwards have shown that more and more young girls are increasingly following suit, and the gap between boys and girls in terms of drug use is closing.

Terrygold: Crack, July 2022

Drug use among young girls is something artist Terrygold has had to face in the physical world and within her own neighbourhood; and what she has witnessed, almost daily, has resulted in her latest installation Crack, which opened at her art gallery in late July 2022.

As with her recent pieces, it comes as a set of vignettes, each narrated by a static, NPC called “Terry”.

These vignettes – a pair this time – are literally framed as pictures; in the first, linked to the installations landing point (reached via teleport disc from the gallery’s main landing point), we she a happy time at home; a wife and husband in a comfortable lounge, their little daughter apparently tucked behind an armchair with her teddy as she plays hide-and-seek with her father. It’s a setting of domestic bliss, which can be seen – literally – through two frames set to either side of scene so as to present frozen images of a happy, safe home life.

A further frame – be it a window or a picture frame, it matters not – presents a view of a world outside this cosy home; a place where alcohol is freely available, the siren glow of neon drawing all too it regardless of age, with those standing in the doorways also caring little about identity or age. Close by, under a streetlight two young girls draw lustful gazes from an older male, whilst another girl, provocatively dressed, staggers down the middle of the road, the worse for – something.

Through the words of “Terry” as we stand next to her looking out onto the scene, we learn this vignette is a reflection of a tragic situation she has witnessed: a girl high of drugs or alcohol, wanting – needing – more – and desperate, spiralling ever deeper into an addiction that can only lead to worse.

Terrygold: Crack, July 2022

Within the house, “Terry” also vents the artist’s frustration in the way that stories of abuse and suffering have become so commonplace that not even the age at which youngsters find themselves trapped by addiction causes anything more than a raised eyebrow. And we, like her, should feel that shame frustration and anger; but how many of us turn the page of the newspaper, shutting out the story just as we can shut the terrors of the world outside by closing the drapes on the windows of our homes?

But just how safe are we, really? Herein lies a deeper layering to Terrygold’s piece.

The entire installation is offered under a dark environment setting. While this clearly adds atmosphere to the street setting, where faces are shadowed, and the sense of danger and intrigued raised, so to does it alter the “indoor” scene of familial bliss, casting pools of darkness that reduce the home to a small island of light, a visual metaphor of the fact that no matter where we go, the darkness in the world is never far away,

But more than this, the shadows within the house serve another purpose. If you view the family through one of the frames, that little girl playing hide-and-seek vanishes, and the faces of the mother and father can no longer be clearly seen. Suddenly the position of the mother as she sits on the edge of the coffee table apparently making a casual call whilst her husband and daughter play, becomes something more urgent, her look more worried.

Similarly, the smiling face of the father is now wreathed in darkness, his tall figure a shadow within a shadow, looming close to his wife. Thus, the entire scene becomes tense and foreboding. The stances of father and mother, together with the apparent absence of their child reminds us that little girls who play hide-and-seek grow into young girls who for whom teddy bears, armchairs and hunting daddies are not enough, but the world, for all its threats, is a wondrous place – and even the threats can tempt and attract, opening young lives to those who would hunt them and/or their money for reasons far less innocent than a game of hide-and-seek, and parents are left fraught and anxious; desperate for the reassurance of a voice on a telephone, for an ear to hear their pleas to come home.

Expressive, offering much to consider, Crack is best seen under the local environment settings (World → Environment → make sure Use Shared Environment is checked), and with ALM (Preferences → Graphics → Advanced Lighting Model) enabled (Shadows are not required, despite the instructions and the landing point, should enabling them impact your computer’s performance unduly).

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Use the teleport disk to reach the installation

Terrygold’s I Would: reflections on life

Terrygold: I Would

In May 2022, Terrygold opened I Would, a further installation of art exploring personal themes of, life, love, and the passage of time. It is something of a third chapter in a series that started with Empty Chairs (see: Terrygold’s Empty Chairs: remembrance in Second Life) and then continued with Rain (see Terrygold’s Rain in Second Life), which – at the time of writing this article, at lease – is still open to visitors at Terrygold’s gallery, alongside I Would.

As with its predecessors, I Would takes visitor on a journey of two parts; one reflecting on childhood and the innocence carried within it; the other the increasingly harsh realities of life within a society which appears to be growing ever more isolationist, intolerant and selfish. These two parts are mirrored one to the other, but they are not reflections of one another; rather they are windows into different states of mind, linked by the presence of Terry, an adult woman who is both guide and voice of the artist’s – and our own – thoughts.

Terrygold: I Would

In the first part of the installation, we travel with Terry from her house and through a park; a place which, in childhood was never short of magical and where excitement and fun and release always awaited and where something might always be found to delight. A place where any little girl could be a princess and dream dreams of a future bright within happiness and light, and within which the realities of human nature were hidden – as least until seen through the weary eyes of adulthood.

In the second, we also start within Terry’s house, but on exiting, we pass onto a street of a modern town; a place dark, dreary and where anger gnashes teeth, and everything appears to be in a state of decay and uncaring selfishness. This is a street where anger is quick to boil over, and where those that have care little for the hardship of those who do not have, whilst being without is grounds to exude the right to threaten and to take.

All of this is evidenced in the words spoken in local chat by Terry as you come across her at various points in both scenes, and also through the words of other characters that might also be found, whilst mood is set by the framing of the scenes and the vignettes waiting within them.

Terrygold: I Would

Within the park, for example, we travel from Terry’s house through the bright colours and magical mysteries imagined by childhood eyes, to arrive back at Terry’s house as it sits in the harshness of winter – symbolic of the passage of time as we grow from the gaiety of childhood to the coldness of adult life.  Meanwhile, in the street scene we find a subtle amplification between those who have, and those who do not: in a garden protected by a high fence, a little girl plays happily, utterly oblivious of the little girl down the street cut off from her enjoyment of the local swings thanks to the vandalism of others and the force erection of another, and altogether different, high fence.

Throughout both scenes the words of the character of Terry give us pause for thought and to question. Why is life like this? Why do we so readily give up on the magic and promise of childhood to settle so readily into the cynicism and cruelty of adult life? What is it about our natures and our societies that make it “easier” to live in anger, resentment, selfishness and disregard, rather than allowing ourselves a more positive and accepting outlook? We obviously cannot remain as innocent as when young – but can we not hold onto the dreams we have, share them, and made the world a better, brighter place by doing so?

Terrygold: I Would

Within each half of the installation are 2D images by Terrygold that offer further reflection and visual tapping of the words offered through the character of Terry. These images add a further layer to our interpretation of I Would as it offers a thought-provoking window into life and the questions we can silently ask of it, and consider the wishes we all have at some point whispered within the stillness of our own thoughts.

On arrival at the gallery landing point, use the teleport disk to visit I Would and the other installations. 

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Terrygold’s Rain in Second Life

Terrygold: Rain – January 2022


I always wait for the rain, that thin, cold, bright … pleasant rain.
I remember that day on the path in the birch forest. The rain
was falling light, cold, illuminated by sunbeams, a light mist
rising from the ground. Motionless to admire, my memories 
were born then among white clouds, white cloud of sheets.

With these words, Terrygold introduces us to her January 2022 art exhibition Rain. In some respects, it is another personal exhibit that follows on from Empty Chairs (see: Terrygold’s Empty Chairs: remembrance in Second Life), offering a story that touches on both Terrygold’s art and life.

Terrygold: Rain – January 2022

From the above introduction, we are led along a passage suggestive of that path through the birch woods. It leads us past elements that add depth and presence to itself, delivering us to places where a story unfolds through images and words. As with Empty Chairs a part of the theme here circles around the fact of loss; unlike Empty Chairs, however, Rain doesn’t just encompass the impact of the permanent loss of those around us – although it certainly starts that way.

Rather, Rain provokes us into considering how a personal loss can shape us; isolating us as we respond to the loneliness it imbues by rejecting the contact and affection of others; how the pain of loss causes a retreat that  – whilst we may not be conscious of it as the time – results in an experience of further loss.

Terrygold: Rain – January 2022
At the same time, also wrapped within this is an exploration of time and how it, too, influences and changes us; the fact that of everything in life, time is our one constant companion. It marks the steps of our lives, the changes we experience. From the loss of those we love, through our other growth from childhood through to adulthood, it marks our desire to escape, whilst also offering what can be a warm / cold memory of those childhood years.

This is a poignant, personal journey, exquisitely frame in terms of setting, props and Terrygold’s images, marvellous self portraits  that express the emotions and feelings captured within the words and setting. These are pieces of extraordinary minimalism, extraordinary creativity and framing, and extraordinary depth.

Terrygold: Rain – January 2022
I love to take pictures by creating my own photographic set and using exclusively tools that Second Life provides without any kind of external editing.

– Terrygold describing her art

But to think the monochrome nature at forms the main aspect of Rain is a walk through loneliness or depression would be a mistake. There is a narrative here that brings together the ideas of loss, time and growth, that brings us towards acceptance and peace / understanding; self-recognition that – if I might barrow from T.S. Eliot –  times past and times present combine to paint our path into the future.

This latter aspect is beautifully illustrated in the final area within Rain, where the wild grass of the floor bursts forth in colours that are also reflected in the final set of Terrygold’s pictures. They bring with us the suggestion of warmth and comfort, a realisation that while we may still feel the coldness of loss and the rain of tears, there is still much in live that can bring warmth and colour.

Terrygold: Rain – January 2022

Perfectly designed and executed, Rain is another fascinating walk through the art and mind of a talented artist and photographer.

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Terrygold’s Horror Museum in Second Life

Solo Arte October 2021: Terrygold – Horror Museum

I’ll say up front that I’m not a great fan of the “Halloween season”. Not because I dislike horror or anything; it’s just that I sit just on the side of the age divide (and also the Atlantic) where I look upon all the fuss and things like trick-or-treating as a dubious import¹. However, every so often something comes along that is related to the “season”, and which catches my eye – such as the first iteration or two of Linden Lab’s Haunted House or the odd region design.

One such place that did this for 2021 is a modest but engaging art installation by Terrgold, which is now open at Solo Arte  to form both an immersive art space and precursor to an event space that will likely see activity throughout the month.

Solo Arte October 2021: Terrygold – Horror Museum

Horror Museum is a small semi-interactive exhibit in which you can witness scenes associated if not with Halloween per se, then most certainly the annals of cinematic and written horror. The core element of the installation is a visit to a museum – or perhaps gallery would be a better description – offering a series of images drawn from the worlds and legends of horror. In one hall, for example, we can peer into a scene of Frankenstein’s laboratory; and another, Nosferatu stands as if in greeting as we pass, whilst others offer images of nightmare characters and creatures – clown and giant spiders – with more beside.

Solo Arte October 2021: Terrygold – Horror Museum

But these are not ordinary images; each is in fact a 3D setting in which visitors are invited to step and become a part of the story that has been captured. Most are fairly straightforward in their presentation of a scene, but one takes you a little further than the others, opening as it does into a chamber beyond its frame.

As well as the 3D images by Terrygold, the halls of the gallery include models of monsters and posters from a number of horror films, some of which compliment Terry’s art.

At the end of the gallery spaces is a picture called The Forest, a walk through what is often the favourite setting for horror films, a mysterious forest, this once complete with strange figures and creatures. A path winds through this forest, providing the way to the event space mentioned above.

If I’m totally honest, I’d have liked to have experienced poses within the various vignettes Terrygold provides that are more in keeping within each theme. But at the same time, producing custom poses is no easy task, and its not as if this diminish the content of  Horror Museum nor the fact it is an engaging installation. When visiting, do make sure you follow the instructions at the landing point to set your environment correctly.

1. Yes, you’re allowed to shout “bah! humbug! at me for saying this (even if that does belong to the end-of-year season!).

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Terrygold’s Empty Chairs: remembrance in Second Life

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

Empty Chairs is a new art installation by Terrygold that opened on September 1st, 2021. It is perhaps the most personal installation Terry has created in Second Life, although its central theme – that of loss of a family member – is a subject many of us can particularly relate to in the current times, given so many of us have had to deal with the loss of loved ones as a result of the current pandemic.

It’s note directly indicated if Terrygold’s own loss was direct result of the COVID situation as I’ve not had the opportunity to discuss the installation with her. However, given the context of the final part of the installation, I am admittedly assuming this to be the case. But even if not, there is no denying the power Empty Chairs has to speak to all of us on the matter of loss.

The installation can loosely be split into three parts. The first presents a series of images together with words by Terrygold that contextualise the feeling she has been experiencing on the loss of her father in a deeply personal, but utterly understandable way; one that particularly speaks to anyone who has lost a close family member, regardless of our relationship with them., and Terry wears her heart on her sleeve in talking about her father and her impact on her.

I Don’t have good memories of my Dad, he was certainly not a good father. But I remember that one day he took me on a trip with the scooter, a different day for me; I thought he could change… I look at his empty chair at the table. Now the last memory of him is this loneliness. Will this sadness ever go away?

– Terrygold, Empty Chairs

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

These are not easy words to read, and I know they were not easy to write; but again, regardless of our own relationship with those we have lost, the loneliness – the emptiness – Terrygold brings to her words and these images will be familiar. The manner in which their absence gives rise to that loneliness in the oddest of ways, from a chair now sitting empty, to sights and sounds we encounter as we strive to resume our own lives, the memories that, long filed away now come back unbidden…

There are so many ways in which such memories can be triggered: the empty chair, a walk that brings us into contact with a sight or object they would have appreciated and the realisation it is something they will never again see or we can no longer discuss with them, and so on, all of which are reflected in these images. Also, the use of dark tones and shadows within them not only reflects the fact they are dealing with matters of grief but also offer a metaphor for Terrygold’s relationship with her father.

At the end of the walk is a set of pieces that are brighter in tone, and which might be said to be the second element of the installation. Here a trees grows and forest birds flutter beneath its boughs, and the images speak of the point Terrygold hopes to reach; where the darkness and loneliness have given way to warmer thoughts; when memories of her father no longer revolve around unhappy memories or the emptiness of a chair or room, but rather allow her to recall those happier moments like the ride on the scooter. Here, as well, is a doorway into the final element of the installation: a street scene crafted by Terrygold that appears to speak directly to the loss the pandemic has brought on the world.

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

Within this scene are many more chairs, all empty, sitting along the street and scattered through the little park, each representing those who have been lost. Among them are boards questioning the cause of the pandemic and our ability to truly live as a part of the world around us, rather than apart from it. Again, the tone is dark – but the thoughts and feeling it presents are ones we can all recognise – perhaps with a sense of familiarity. And here too, at the end, tucked behind the little row of shops is a message of hope.

Visualising and giving voice to grief can often be cathartic- and I hope this is the case for Terrygold. Speaking as one who has been through similar loss as a direct result of the pandemic – and while my own relationship with  the one I’ve lost was far closer, I think, than Terry’s with her father – I will say that visiting Empty Chairs was moving and offering a further sense of release from some of the memories that still give rise to confusion and hurt. But even without my personal experience, I would have found Empty Chairs richly poignant and with a remarkable depth of content and context.

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

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