The Novice

A virtual dry-fly for a virtual trout. I have been experimenting in VR using Tiltbrush to tie my first fly, or at least my impression of a fly. Then I took at look at some videos by the expert Davie McPhail (as recommenced by the river keeper), only to realise just how many mistakes I have made – starting with the hook being the wrong way round! Room for improvement… [Thank you Marie for all your help, and to the Corsham Institute for your support with the VR.]

Virtual Test

Imagine one of the pillars in the cellurium at Mottisfont, with the vaulted ceiling emanating from the top; then imagine the room flooded with water from the Test, the surface reaching half way up the pillars; and finally, imagine a dry-fly hovering just above the surface. Well, that is what you have here, my first foray into drawing in virtual reality (VR). I am exploring VR to see if I might use it for Surface Tensions. I just have a hunch that this might be the right medium for this project. We will see!

In search of Detached Badger

For those of you not familiar with the history of dry-fly fishing (me included until quite recently), or the provenance of the Oakley Beat at Mottisfont, the key figure in this very English drama is F.M. Halford (1844–1914). This photo of him was taken not long before he died. During his life he wrote many books on the subject and articles for  ‘The Field’ magazine under the pen name of Detached Badger [Ed: why? SR: still to find out.]

Surface lexicon

This laser scan of the sea surface off the Isle of Portland came to mind as Neil, the river keeper, was pointing out how the ripples and swellings on the surface of the Test can reveal what’s happening beneath. Variations in flow and depth are exploited by the fish; slow eddies as resting places, fast flows to bring food downstream. Just as the fish play these currents to their advantage, so the angler reads the surface signs to reveal the fish’s likely location. Well, my next task is to understand this fluid lexicon for myself. [This laser scan of The Race off Portland was part of A Natural History of Pseudomorphs.]

Back to where I started

Just as fish caught in the river would have been brought to the house and stored in the cellar, so it is with my work from this residency. It will be shown in the Cellarium at Mottisfont. Full circle for me, as my first installation was in another vaulted space, the crypt at Gloucester cathedral.

First sighting

I was on the Rectory Beat today and saw my first fish. It might not look much to you, but it pleased me! Trout or salmon? Not sure. But happy to spend time with Mottisfont’s river keeper learning about the river. [Thanks Neil for sharing your afternoon with me.]

Surface Tensions goes live!

Fresh into 2019 and this project is finally off the ground! I will be in residence on the Oakley Beat at Mottisfont this year, working towards an exhibition in Spring 2020. More details to follow shortly. In the meantime, one of FM Halford’s creations. I like the name!