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A NSW artist has become the first Australian to set up an online gallery through the Linden Company’s program Second Life. Broulee man Ritchey Sealy discovered the virtual reality game almost six months ago and has since created a two-story art gallery in the simulated world, which he runs for about $5 a week. He said it had placed his art on the global map, and viewers from as far as South Africa had walked through his gallery’s virtual doors.

“I’m the only artist doing it in Big Pond and [so far] the only Australian.”

The internet venture has captured the interest of millions of players worldwide, and has also attracted the attention of global organisations. Players also use real money and exchange the Linden Dollar online.

Mr Sealy said each player could create his or her own virtual character – which was free to travel through Second Life. Viewers, he said, could even take their virtual characters shopping (which would cost real money), take them to the pub, or out dancing.

Mr Sealy said within the game replicas of Sydney had been created – including the Harbour Bridge, and Pitt Street – while other users from around the world had also added virtual versions of their home city.

“I’m taken back by a lot of it,” he said.

While Mr Sealy is still finding his feet in the program, he has enjoyed his first large-scale success after a one-man exhibition two weeks ago.

He said he set up the online gallery with scanned in prints of more than 100 of his works, which attracted more than 60 viewers from around the world.

“I think it’s the best career move [I have made] so far,” he said. “It’s exposure… you can sit down and actually talk to someone [online].

“You can communicate with businesses around the world.”

Mr Sealy said Second Life was already transforming from the game mentality to one of potential business, and he expects popularity to continue to boom.

For his own online future, the virtual sky is the limit.

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