Thursday 5 January 2012


Fisherfolk must know a thing or two. We spend all day near or on the water not doing much which gives us time to think, possibly too much time. This should explain why there are so many experts in fishing, so many people offering advice and the benefits of their wisdom. The cosy inertia of the river bank affording the space needed to provide reasons, or excuses for one's success or failure. The long, cold winter giving the time to write it all up as blogs or articles in Trout and Salmon. I hope that sometimes all that thinking time can spawn something useful.

I hate fly fishing art on the whole, it's impossibly naff at times but most commendably, often worthy of a place in the Daily Mail's "Not the Turner Prize". There is possibly no genre more worrying than hyper realism. All that copying is just a little unhealthy. Fishing art is more often than not just naff and twee.
Today I came across this cracking painting which has changed my mind about fishing art.

   Sedges,  Norman Wilkinson  (1878-1971) 

 It manages to be realistic without being kitsch and I can almost cast to those rises. It was painted by Norman Wilkinson who, as it happens, was an early camoufleur; a gorgeous word for a practioner of camouflage. Already recognised as a pretty decent artist, during WWI he was in the Navy. During that time, he persuaded the Admiralty to adorn their battleships with his "Dazzle" patterns with the aim of making the outline more difficult to trace and hopefully confusing German U-boats.
Dazzled Ships at Night, (1918) Norman Wilkinson Image copyright of the Imperial War Museum

After the Wars, he turned his attention to providing awesomely groovy images for government posters.

I like to imagine that he came up with the idea of dazzle during an evening with trout bursting to the surface as the sunlight casts strong shapes over a river's ripples. The overall effect causing him blinking confusion as to where to place his fly; or at least that was his excusing for missing the rise.