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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Floral Tribute

That 'avatar identity' stuff is largely pretentious twaddle, but I always think you can tell quite a bit from somebody's eyes. Writer and collector Maeve Eiren's are a limpid green, and speak of sometimes melancholy thoughtfulness wrapped in glassy strength.

You may remember her Celtic-themed sim, Skellig Medb, a storytelling land; when the sim had served its purpose she left the mainland, washing up on the 'focused and sane' shores of the Avalon Art region, where she enjoys the sense of community, the good services, and the people. Here at her parcel,  Croi Amhain she has a glassy greenhouse in a leafy suburb.  It's a different life, and she enjoys interacting with people on neighbouring parcels, and speaks with enthusiasm of the new project which will allow Avalon rsidents to show their private art collections in the Town Hall. Rowan Derryth's the chick with more info about that.

I never come to Avalon, so I was a bit laggy, but a few minutes fixed that. And the textures are worth the wait. Maeve has arranged the plants in a very conventional setting - a Victorian-style conservatory, complete with sprinkler system. Even though, of course,
space-plants don't need water. Is that a deliberate juxtaposition of old and new?
Maeve Eiren: It is totally deliberate; this build is awesome, so it captures the sense of that style and culture, I'd characterize it as corsetted vs. free-ranging. That's what I was after. Do we really want SL to look like RL? Or can we imagine someting more fabulous, with the tools and capabilities here? It's like laying down a choice, really, while at the same time suggesting that choosing is not necessary. Excellent art, architecture, - whatever - can coexist. Also, to date, I've never seen soror's stuff in a traditional setting; not such a tight one as this, anyway.  I do not make art in SL, unless you count the arranging of other people's, like being a stylist versus a designer. I don't think it's 'important' to be a collector, Thirza; I do think that, if an artist meets someone who can provide feedback, that's a gift to both people. soror and I seem to have that.

Maeve Eiren: It's been a challenge to incorporate her work with more traditional settings and plantings, and this is a combination of collecting for the past two years and more; with soror adding to my collection as new ones come available. Much of her work is in InWorldz now, so I'm getting the imports from her work there, and we will be adding selected new creations to this set-up.

Maeve Eiren: Many other SLers don't visit InWorldz, and since soror's big shop is long defunct, there are few examples of her work gathered together, except for some wonderful builds that arise from time to time. But even at those, the flowers seem to take a back seat to the trees, and these flowers are fabulous. They are also (for the most part) less primmy and easier to incorporate, so maybe some people can get inspired.
  Just then, soror dropped in, looking very Fanta-summery

soror Nishi:..its hot in here... great green house! I've been importing plants today.
Maeve Eiren: Good, more fodder needed! I am ripping down prims left and right to dedicate to the plant goddess. Irrigation system gets sacrificed next... 80 prims! damn, you are tall!
soror Nishi: yep, I drink the seaweed feed
Maeve Eiren: gimme soma dat, den...
For absolutely no reason at all, I sat down and, while my bum took on the waffle-pattern of the wrought-iron floor, I wondered what effect (if any) it has on soror, to see so many of her creations all together in one place.

soror Nishi: Maeve has some of my early stuff here too! It's not really strange to see my plants like this, because I had a garden at my shop, and they have a greenhouse that Nyx Breen built in Inworldz.
  That of course makes perfect sense, yet one couldn't help wondering, looking around the room as an outsider, if the confluence of history - the community of creations whether in her shop, or in a build, moves her to design flowers that contrast or will complement the previous creations? Does this catalog speak to her about her own growth as a designer, and the evolution of her artistic ability and technique?

soror Nishi: Well, my Blendr skills were a bit more primitive at the beginning, but some of the older plants are still good. I think my techniques haven't changed. As far as possible, I always try to come up with something new, but the colouration and so on is decided by the prims, really.  I do try not to repeat, and I try to think what types of, say, petal haven't I made yet, so that's normally the starting point they will normally all fit in together. Of course, there are one or two that get composted, but that is normally because there's something not 'right'.
Maeve Eiren: Composting is a startling concept (word) to hear and think about vis-a-vis SL...
soror Nishi: Oh yes, even after they are made, they can still get the chop. My inventory is a compost heap.
Maeve Eiren: Yes, but SL is not at all organic and so the notion is very foreign. That makes me think that your work to create plants has that built-in push-pull.

I know soror has a background in agriculture and plants, but I wondered if, in the real world, Maeve would call herself a 'flower person'
Maeve Eiren: In RL, I was an herbalist of sorts, and that would include a passion for antique roses, but time is tight, so not so much now. This is less about flowers, Thirza, and more about stretching the little grey cells. I think allowing imagination, rather than self-censoring, is a big part of it. I seem to have a penchant for smart pot-stirrers, artists like soror, who don't follow the 'shoulds' (I hate that word) and don't feel they have to always be colouring within the lines. I think people censor themselves a lot, and too much hits the proverbial cutting-room floor prematurely, as a result of that. Early on, when we first met, I told soror that I needed to know whether she viewed her stuff as sculpting or as plantings. I could not envision how to do the Skellig Medb build without knowing that. It turned out to be a really tough question, but the answer was: plants! We "collectors" get to make sculptings out of plants by the context we create for them, just as florists do in many cultures. The thing comes full circle again and again: art - nature -art -nature. When I studied creative writing, I chose not to double major in English but instead doubled in Theatre. I chose Fine Art to feed my writing abilities rather than English, which has gotten so hung up on Lit Theory. But the point of all that is that learning is like sculpting. The sculptor has wheels on his cart for a reason.. so he can move around the model in order to capture all angles, otherwise the outcome is an incomplete, incorrect mess. Life is like that, and so I guess I want people in SL to put wheels on their carts, and move around this fascinating foreign model. Most people stay on somebody else's prescribed rails, but the whole point of the journey is to get things less wrong, fail better, not in an absolute sense, of course; but I think it's more a mindset. Yes? No?
Among the many beloved plants, here are three 'stops along the way' in Maeve's journey through the flora of soror.
Maeve Eiren: The first soror plant I bought is here, it's the candycane twist of a tree. "68th Ancient One" it is called. I stuck it by an Irish cottage on Skellig Medb and it worked... except for the fact that soror wasn't into phantom-izing stuff back then. So, I asked her for a helmet - that led to a visit from her, and a friendship (and an easing of the no-phantom philosophy!) The helmet? It's more like a fantastic diver's helmet, but it worked!

Maeve Eiren: The second plant is this one, "The Glade Lily" with a description of soror's that reads "grows in woodlands." I choose it because it makes me smile to recall the first time I saw it floating in air, like this, at soror's large mainland parcel, and so it floats here.Things do not need support in SL; we do not need stairs, plants do not need soil, and this is a tiny reminder of that. We choose to throttle ourselves with the necessary physical conventions of RL, but we have a new set of physics here, so why not stretch? It's funny, I agree with you about the surrealism of her ideas, but then they often seem more 'grounded' than most other things I encounter in SL.

Maeve Eiren: OK, number three is a no-brainer. It's the Sword Leaf Orchid, insectivorous, the note says. It just seems so damned lacivious, doesn't it? There's another one in the water outside (called Bog Asparagus) which has the same naughty feel.
The annotated retrospective at the greenhouse at Croi Amhain opens in October. Check in with Maeve, or the Avalon Town organizers,  for more information about the show.


sororNishi said...

Wow, great post, thanks.
It's always good to have a sponsor/collector like Maeve interested in your work. She takes stuff where I have finished and then often gives it another little twist, i.e. contextural, that I would do differently. Plants then get a life of their own and become a part of another's life.
I am very positive about art having a use rather than being locked away in some store/bank vault, and Maeve is an ideal patron in that respect.

Maeve said...

Thirza, a thousand thanks for your blog! Hugs and Waves, as you and I say now! (inside joke here). But seriously, it is always good to bring soror's work to light and to share it, and you have helped me broaden the sharing... so I owe you one! BTW, the green eyes come from Poetic Eyes. Do they speak volumes? Gosh, I hope not! ")

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog!