‘The Avant Gardener’: Ian Hamilton Finlay at the Tate Britain

Ian Hamilton Finlay, The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans, 1985
The Tate Britain currently has a show highlighting their collection of works by Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006), the Scottish concrete poet, sculptor, and landscape artist, perhaps best known for his Little Sparta, an Arcadian garden of sculpture and concrete poetry he carved out in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh with his wife Sue Finlay. Nick Thurston has an excellent piece over at Bomb Magazine’s blog that considers some of the problems with reconciling Finlay’s postmodern aesthetics and his often reactionary political or moral worldviews. The exhibition is a chance to review these often collaborative works, and perhaps to consider how Finlay’s use of form and poiesis is in dialogue with other contemporary poetic appropriations of pastoral or antiquity, like those in the work of Anne Carson or Geoffrey Hill.
Ian Hamilton Finlay, Shenval Christmas Poem / Print 1971
Ian Hamilton Finlay, Poster Poem (Le Circus), 1964
Ian Hamilton Finlay with Richard Healy, Two Trees / Woodcuts 1982
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Ian Hamilton Finlay, Gateway to a Grove, 1985
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