What do a 10-story high reindeer statue, a medieval ship, a clothing store, a bank and several real life art galleries have in common? Well for starters they can all be found in a city called New Oxford on Planet Calypso in Entropia Universe. A virtual city that offers a combination of virtual and real items, clothes and paintings for sale, meaning you buy a virtual painting for your apartment in game and can also receive the real item at your home address. Recently, it also hosted its first participant created art exhibition which was a great success. Below you'll find a short tour through this city and what you can expect.
New Oxford was founded back in 2006 and was partially created by artist for artists. It's a mix of old and new architecture which becomes apparent when you enter the city from the east, north or south across a very long medieval looking bridge connecting the mainland with the tranquil island on which New Oxford is built. New Oxford was partially designed by one of Sweden's best known contemporary artists Ernst Billgren, who provided the concept drawings that were converted into computer graphics by Mindark. Like in Billgren's earlier works, mosaics play a large role in the design of this digital city.
Either walking across the east bridge, or after teleporting directly into the city, you'll find yourself on the lowest of three squares connected by stairs. To the south, you will see the Anshe Bank building where you can offer up items as collateral in return for cash loans or check out the shopkeeper that sells expired loan items.
There, you will find the modern trade center building, home to several auctioneers and technicians, always friendly enough to greet you with a cheerful "Hello!" when you do business with them. Along the walls are the crafting machines for weapons, armor and components as well as all the other necessary terminals and storage facilities. There are usually dedicated crafters at work here to share tips or a nice joke with.
Climbing the first stairs west from the teleported, you will come to the middle square which is actually more like a street flanked by a huge office building housing both the China Everbright Bank and China mobile. Unfortunately, the building's access is set to private so there's no real knowing what it looks like inside or what it is used for.
Continuing west up the next steps past the pillars with burning fires on them you'll come to the main square. The first few buildings to your left and right including the ones you just walked through underneath are shut tight with no clue of their purpose. Some rumors say the CIA and other Intelligence agencies have set up office in there to watch over the Chinese and control HoF (Hall of Fame) and loot cycles, less paranoid people simply claim these buildings have not been sold yet.
The building on the south-west corner is the New Oxford art gallery, up the steep stairs, turn right at the lobby and you will find 21st Century's Gallery exhibiting a large number of paintings from several renowned real life artists. There are also real life item shopkeepers standing about if you're interested in buying a painting.
The first artist is Mark Kostabi, an artist and composer from California whose work is widely exhibited throughout the United States, Japan, Germany and Australia. His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of art, the National Museum of Modern Art in Rome and many more.
Another artist on display here is Kika Karadi, born in Budapest Hungary and immigrated to the US when she was 12. Back in 2005 she participated in the 51st Venice Biennale, Poles apart Poles together, the 2nd Prague Biennale and many more. Kika is represented in some of the major private art collections around the globe.
Last artist in the back of the hall is Mark DeMuro. Mark DeMuro works and lives in New York. He is founder and director of the Beaux Arts Foundation and The Downtown Arts Club. His work has been featured in Figaro Japan, New York's Hottest young Artists, L'art vivant, Bomb Art Magazine Quarterly, New York Arts Journal and the Washington times. He has also received The Dean's Purchase Award from the University of Miami, The Ludwig K. Vogelstein Foundation Grant for painting and a Dow Material Grant.
If you follow the signs "Lecture Hall" you'll come across a small theater where a workshop of Ernst Billgren is played. You can also take the stairs to the second floor where you will find another huge although currently empty gallery hall. Walk through it and there is another small theater where a Mark Kostabi workshop is shown. The next floor up you will discover another empty hall and also the building's balcony overlooking the main square. Often the quickest way between two points is a straight line, so next jump over the balcony railing to the north. Don't worry, it won't hurt, you'll end up at the side entrance of the Art Gallery's building and in front of the Academy of Fine Arts which is where we'll want to go next.
The Academy of Fine Arts is basically a mirror image of the New Oxford art gallery, except this one has a huge tree growing in one of the halls. It is also more intended for participant created art as well as lectures held by other artists. Recently First Planet Company organized the first participant art exhibition. It is possible in Entropia Universe to upload your own artwork onto signs and screens for display and people were invited to submit their work for a public exhibition. Despite the short notice and brief submission times, 40 artworks were on display at the grand opening. Work ranging from abstract to figurative, painting, photographs and computer art were all shown. Although the exhibition is over, more will undoubtedly be held in the future. Also a large selection of CryEngine2 previews is on permanent display on the balcony of the main hall.
The last building, shaped like a reindeer sphinx is called the 'Hjorten' building and consists of three parts, an underground area accessible through the side entrances. The ground floor when you come through the front door and the viewing platform also accessible from the front door. Coming from that front door immediately turn left or right around the ramp to enter the Vexed Generation clothing store. Vexed Generation Clothing was set up to produce clothes that suit an urban environment and promote issues of environmental and social significance. Vexed Generation is owned by Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter, their garments incorporate new and unique design solutions to contemporary living, utilizing respiratory protection and performance fabrics that are waterproof, breathable, fire retardant and knife retardant. Many pieces are designed with two wheeled transport in mind as Vexed believe these forms of transport to be of benefit to the individual and the environment in an urban setting.
Several mannequins can be found displaying the work of Vexed generation as well as the real life item shopkeeper in the middle selling the real life versions of these clothes. Further to the back you'll come across a showroom complete with a catwalk where fashion shows can be held. To the left and right of the entrance are lecture halls where you can watch a workshop by Adam Thorpe or Joe Hunter about their work. If you want to have a great view over the rest of New Oxford you will have to climb the ramp near the entrance, it is a long way up though, 1minute 23 seconds to be exact if you're carrying 130kg with you like me, i challenge you to do better. Unfortunately you can't jump down from the mouth so you'll have to run back too (43 seconds). When you're back down be sure to check out one of the side entrances too to visit the underground area. Memorize the maps you come across occasionally because it can be disorienting there. Some shops can be found here as well as an underground settlement called Thorkell's tomb and big cave with skeletons beneath it. If you do get lost you can always press 'T' to teleport back to the nearest revival terminal.
The area around the city consists of some grassy hills covered with tall trees. West of the city a second teleporter can be found for easy access to the 4 apartment buildings on the outskirts of the city. They are called the Billton Towers and are 7 story high buildings with a terrace around the 1st floor. Some of the luxury apartment wallpapers in there are designed by Helena Billgren, also a famous Swedish artist. A short stroll south from the first teleporter you'll find a replica of an 18th century Swedish East Indiaman, a wooden sailing vessel. The original sank off Gothenburg, Sweden on 12 September 1745 while approaching its home harbor after returning from her third voyage to the China. All sailors survived, but the ship was lost. A real life replica was also made using traditional means consisting of Ten tons of hemp rope and 1800 square meters of sail. She was launched in 2003 and made her maiden voyage April 2005.