For those of you subscribed to this blog, a quick update on Surface Tensions. From here on in I am going to be posting on Instagram, rather than via WordPress. If you would like to continue following my progress, then you will find me @surface.tensions. Hope to see you there!

Shank, gape and barb

In the catalogue this Dry Fly Supreme hook is described as having a “standard shank, round bend, wide gape, and a down-eye, all of which makes it “the ideal all purpose dry fly hook”. Well I might as well start here, seeing if I can tie a suitable VR-fly on this virtual hook, ready for the Oakley Beat. The only thing is, Neil, the river keeper, tells me that you are no longer allowed to use hooks with barbs, a modern convention as barbs were allowed in Halford’s days. [Thanks Dan for making this for me.]

The idea of Otter

I’ve been looking into the River Test (quite literally), well stocked with trout, thinking about how it will be impacted by climate change. I then went up to the cafe at Mottisfont and I came across this poster on the walls there. Dating from 1931, it caught my eye as it seemed to encapsulate so much about our paradoxical attitude to nature. It’s a great example of how we appropriate the idea of ‘Nature’ to promote, well, anything really, at the expense of Nature itself; here, the desire to drive out into the countryside at the weekends to be refreshed by some natural scene or other. Little did we suspect at the time, but those fossil fuels had a sting in their exhaust. So, I went to asked Neil, the river keeper, whether there were infact any otters on the Test. He responded by showing me some otter tracks on the Rectory Beat. So at least that part of the poster is real! [Poster courtesy of the Shell Heritage Art Collection.]

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.]

Huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’

It was for The Field magazine that F.M. Halford wrote about dry fly fishing under the pen name of the Detached Badger. The Field covered (and still does) anything to do with hunting, shooting and fishing – perhaps that is Halford himself fishing the Test there on the right of the magazine’s historic banner illustration. [If you know who drew this illustration then please get in touch as I would like to credit them.]


Hot, chalk, gold

Chalk size smPhew! Sweating away here in the studio. It is so hot today that everything is working double quick. The glue I am using to seal the chalk is drying in minutes, rather than hours; and I am experiencing the power of chalk to absorb, usually water (to form a chalk aquifer, something that adds to the characteristic clear steady flow found in chalk streams) but in this instance layer upon layer of ‘size’ (the name for the type of glue I am using). I could seal with something else, such as PVA, but I want to minimise the different materials used and as size is what I will be using to finally stick the gold leaf onto the chalk then I would prefer to use that for sealing too. A bit of a technical blog today, but then some days are like that.