Back in October 2020, I was invited to visit the Wythburn Art Walk, a exhibition at Wythburn Village specifically in aid of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC). At the time (see: Wythburn Art Walk in Second Life) some two-dozen artists were participating in the region-wide event, which also offered the opportunity for visitors to explore Wythburn and the surrounding region.
The Art Walk / Artists for Life event in support of RFL in SL will be back in 2021 (I understand it is currently scheduled for around April 2021). However, and in the meantime Artistic director at Wythburn, Star Finesmith (MorningStar Finesmith), invited me back to the Village, which is now a burgeoning arts community and centre for arts in Second Life, with two core centres of interest: the village itself and the Raven Craig Art Centre.
Both the village and the Art Centre are located on the shoreline of Wythburn Lake, a ribbon of water that cuts across the land from the rugged uplands to the south-west, denoted by their waterfalls and the tall, blocky form of a Scottish-style castle, to run north and east to where the Art Centre and the village face one another across the water before being linked by a cobbled warehouse area and rutted track that extends from it, marking the lake’s easternmost extent.
The Art Centre, fronted by a garden space offering a strong Japanese / Zen setting complete with a small tea house and Torii gates, is the home of rotating exhibitions of art curated by Star and Sethos and which are intended to feature both established and up-and-coming Second Life Artists. In addition, the Centre is also intended to “freely educate in the history, practice, and methods of the arts in Second Life.”
An impressive building in size, with numerous large, airy halls on two levels, Raven Craig offers a rich opportunity for ensemble exhibitions, some of which could conceivably overlap with one another, encouraging repeat visits. It had yet to be fully occupied at the time I dropped in, with the displays that are available focused on avatar studies by Caly Applewhyte (Calypso Applewhyte), Wren Noir (Wrennoir Cerise), Max (Max Seagate) and star herself, with a mixed selection of avatar studies and landscapes presented in the upper floor rooms by a number of artists including, but not limited to Jaz (Jessamine2108), Akim (Akim Alonzo), Freyja (Freyja Merryman), Janine Portal, Pavel Stransky, and 3D pieces by Harry Cover (impossibleisnotfrench).
Also to be found on the upper level, but not officially open at the time of my visit, is a forthcoming exhibition of Second life landscape art by AriaRose Canningham (AriaRose Kiyori).
A short walk along the track from the Centre are the docks and village of Wythburn. Home to the Wythburn Arts Community, the village offers studio spaces of varying sizes to artists interested in renting them. Many have already been taken, thus providing visitors with a further opportunity to see (and purchase, if they wish) a range of art by artists and photographers from across Second Life, although there were a number of the smaller studios still available at the time of my visit, costing a very reasonable L$100 per week for 100 LI.
Beyond the village, through the arch at its southern extent, the lakeside landscape is also open to exploration. Here, over a bridge that spans further falls that feed the lake, lies a hidden henge sitting within surrounding oak and birch trees and curtain walls of rock. Just westward of this, along the path that might take you eventually around the lake and up to the high castle, is what appears to be a small market area sitting within its own ruins and carrying with it something of a medieval feel.
What the function of this market-like setting might be, I have no idea; but it also sits close to a further set of ruins which, despite their classical columns, are of a distinctly more modern time frame. Sitting directly on the shore of the lake, they offer good views back towards the village and the Art Centre, as well as up to the castle, whilst also revealing the shore of the lake, rugged as it is, might also be circumnavigated.
Nor is that all. Also to be found within the setting are places with a decided lean towards fantasy, be it via the fae-guarded rotunda sitting within its own glade at the end of a grassy path, or the Game of Thrones-ish Hall of Faces that lies within a network of tunnels that also hide caverns with the most otherworldly of gardens. I’m not going to say where any of these might lie, suffice it to say, keen eyes and willing feet will find the way to them with reasonable ease – and that finding them is part of the fun of exploring this setting.
From art exhibition centre to arts community to a richly diverse landscape ripe for exploration and photography, and with opportunities for exploration on foot or horseback (rezzers available or wear your own), Wythburn and Raven Craig offer a lot to see and appreciate. And should the idea of tromping around on your pedal extremities feel off-putting, keep an eye out for the horse and carriage combinations both in the village square and outside the Art Centre; they’ll take you to one of a number of destinations by way of a gentle ride through and around the village.
Note that Thirlmere is rated Moderate.