Exploring Soft Solitudes with Melusina Parkin

A casual visit to the BOSL Arts Main Gallery led to a fascinating exhibition along with an extremely insightful conversation with the artist.

Solitude is such an intriguing concept. For some, it can represent peace, calm and tranquility – a chance to think, introspect or reflect on things, while for others it can evoke feelings of loneliness. It has been one of Melusina Parkin’s favorite themes throughout her journey into the world of SL photography. Interestingly, it was also the topic of her first exhibition back in 2012.

In the introduction to that particular exhibit, she wrote:

“Solitude is a plural word. We can be alone in the most crowded places, we can find loneliness in a town street as well as in a desert. Solitude can be desperation but also peacefulness, just rest or push to fill the void.”

And these words ring true to most of us. We have all felt alone in a crowd at some point. Solitude does not have much to do with physical proximity to people or a crowd; it has more to do with feeling connected to people. Solitude and these feelings of being alone have always captured Melusina’s imagination. After her first exhibition, she also showcased others with themes like Empty Spaces, Absences and Listening to the Silence.

We enter the exhibition through a dimly lit corridor, the walls adorned with Melusina’s works

Melusina’s beautiful landscapes at the BOSL Arts Main Gallery are minimalistic in nature and completely created using soft pastel colors. The use of these pastels has a remarkable soothing effect on the viewer and offers a sense of peace and calm. We can also see at once why the exhibition has been named “Soft Solitudes“. The colors are soft, the edges are soft, the saturation values have been kept low. The colors merge and flow into each other beautifully, creating images that reflect the theme perfectly.

The way Melusina approaches her work is somewhat unique. She sees herself as a photographer and not as an artist for a very good reason.

She tells me, “Art belongs to the viewers: people decide if a photo arouses emotions and feelings and then can be called “art”.”

One of my personal favorites at “Soft Solitudes”. I am completely mesmerized by something in this desert landscape.

Melusina is able to split her process of building a photograph into various moments – shooting, post-processing, giving it meaning and classifying it under a concept.

“Shooting is definitely not a single moment for me”, she says with a smile. “It can take a long while before I am satisfied that I have found the “right” framing and the “best” windlight. It can also take some time to simplify the image by rendering some things in the frame.”

After that, she works on the image in Photoshop making a few modifications in contrast, tone and the most important one for her – saturation. She likes to stay away from any special effects although she does add a handmade filter once in a while. Sometimes, when needed, she crops the image to improve her framing, enhances some details in the image or deletes parts which are incoherent.

She tells me that to her, post-processing is almost like shooting a photograph all over again.

“After I am done with post-processing and once I am happy with the final image, I reflect on what that particular image “says” to me and classify it the proper folder in my archives.”

The dark interiors of BOSL Arts Main Gallery complement the lighter, pastel tones of Melusina’s photographs

Many of the images which are part of “Soft Solitudes” at the BOSL Arts Main Gallery have been shot at various places on the grid (25 different sims, she tells me!) over a long period of time. She handpicked these from her archives and then completed the series by taking more photographs that matched the theme of the others.

Prominent photographers like Ghirri, Evans, Frank and great painters such as Hopper, Sironi, Sheeler and Hammershoi have all influenced and inspired Melusina and her work. She is also an avid reader of photography magazines in RL and they have provided her with a lot of ideas and suggestions.

After visiting “Soft Solitudes” and gazing in wonder at the stunning locations showcased in the photographs, it will come as no surprise to you that Melusina spends a lot of her time wandering around SL. In fact, someone once joked that she knows Second life better than the Lindens themselves!

However she tells me that finding new places is not as difficult as it might seem.

“The Destination Guide can be a good starting point, but the best way to explore exciting places, in my opinion, is to follow some great blogs that review some of the best places in this world.”

Melusina has also created her own publishing brand this year known as “Melubooks”. These catalogues of her art works contain a number of images which are not displayed in her inworld exhibitions.

A “Melubook” of Soft Solitudes is available for sale at the gallery

“There are often limits to the number of images one can exhibit in a gallery due to space constraints. One of my mentors, the great Italian photographer, Luigi Ghirri, has said that one should not look for a great shot but try to build an essay around a theme. And I try to follow it. In my opinion, a book can develop a theme better because it can showcase many more works than can be viewed in a gallery or exhibition. Some of my books contain up to 100 images.”

The dark interiors of BOSL Arts Main Gallery, part of the Best of SL Virtual Magazine, complement the lighter, pastel tones of Melusina Parkin’s photographs perfectly. These images of beautiful oceans, grasslands and deserts stretching into the desert provide a much-needed respite during these difficult times when a big part of the world is still under lockdown and facing restrictions.

Visit “Soft Solitudes” by Melusina Parkin at BOSL Arts and be amazed by her stunning photographs which showcase the beauty of Second Life with the beautiful use of pastels.

Click HERE to visit this exhibition inworld.

More information about Melusina Parkin:

Melu Space (Minimum Gallery, Melubooks) – TELEPORT

Melu Gallery at Time Portal – TELEPORT

Melu Studio at Phoenix Artists’ Collaboration – TELEPORT

Melusina Parkin’s FLICKR Page shows more than 13,000 photographs. Check that out!

Her Virtual Exhibit BLOG is interesting too!