Meet another member of the Fly Culture team. Artistic Director Perry Bamonte
How did you become involved as artistic director with Fly Culture?
I became involved with Fly Culture through my friendship with Pete.
How do you know Pete?
I always try to go fishing on my birthday but one year a friend of my wife was getting married the same day and I need to be suited up by lunchtime so as a compromise I booked a mornings casting lesson through the Devon School of Fly Fishing. Pete and I did a half hour of casting then went fishing! Needless to say I was late for the wedding.
That’s how we met and we got along so well we’ve been fishing together ever since.
What have you been doing before working with Fly Culture?
I spent about twenty years in the music business. A career that either left me no time at all for fishing, or lots of it.
Art of any form is clearly important to you, is there a preference for the medium?
When I was young and starving I thought I wanted to be a sculptor. Something three dimensional that combined crafting skills with artistic ideas. I’d dropped out of art school to pursue music but I cobbled together a portfolio and got accepted in another college that offered a sculpture course. The same day that I received my letter of acceptance I was offered the job of keyboard player in a really big band. It was an offer I could not refuse. I told myself ‘I can do art when I’m old’. And so it is!
You have done the artwork for a piece in the first issue, after you were sent the article to read how did you go about the process?
The piece has a rather provocative title and gives rise to images straight away, but I usually find the ideas that arrive first don’t always end up in the finished work. It’s an evolving process but I think it’s important to keep those first ideas at hand as they often have that instinctive spark that can be lost along the way.
Did you have to go back to the drawing board, literally, at all or was there always a clear idea that you wanted to stick to?
None of the finished pieces ended up looking like my original idea, but that’s ok!
We have a huge resource pool these days in the internet which is incredibly helpful for reference but I see a lot of digital art evolving in a very similar style. I believe it’s important that artists continue to hone traditional skills whilst using modern methods so that they find their own identity.
You’ll be designing the cover for Issue 2, excited?
An exciting challenge. I want to capture a feeling, an essence, a moment and have it be recognisable to any angler. There are so many starting points, I just hope they converge nicely…
As an angler you are often looking for solutions to issues we might face with tackle and will often design or tinker with a set up, fly or piece of tackle to solve a particular problem or just to make it work better. Is there an engineer or problem solver wanting to get out or have you always done this in other aspects of your life?
When I lived in Florida my American friends called me ‘MacGyver” (but you’d have to know who that is for it to make sense. A tv character who could build or fix anything using a penknife and whatever was to hand.) It’s probably in my nature to problem solve and it gets focussed on to what I’m most passionate about. It’s very satisfying to brainstorm something and then try it out on the water with success. I did a lot more during my coarse angling days. As a fly fisher there’s less to tinker with!
What is it you love about fly fishing?
I always say it’s three pastimes in one. I absolutely love casting – the physics of it, the grace, the possibilities it offers as you develop. Tying flies is an art in itself and allows for even more experimentation as mentioned above. And as a method of pursuing one’s love of angling, fly fishing is just so elegant. And the game fish seem so much more vital and alluring.
How did you get into it?
As a coarse angler of a certain age I had to observe the Close Season (still enforced on rivers but used to be stillwaters as well) I took up fly fishing as a way to keep fishing through those months. A girlfriend of mine bought me a fly tying kit – she was broke at the time and it cost her a lot. Something I’ve never forgotten and will always be grateful for. I had the usual working class impression that fly fishing was a sport for the upper class, and back in the early nineties that may still have been partly true. But small stillwaters were on the rise and through my music career I befriended Roger Daltrey who let me fish at his beautiful fishery, Lakedown. It was there I met Ted Cocklin who really took me under his wing and taught me the basics. Which kind of leads me back to the previous question – beyond doubt, it’s the friendships you form through angling that so often become an important part of the ‘why’.
Dry fly or nymph?
You really can’t beat seeing a dry being sipped or snatched or smashed, whatever fish you may be after…!