Ian Hamilton Finlay

HMS Illustrious

1972

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View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Ian Hamilton Finlay 1925–2006
Medium
Screenprint on paper
Dimensions
Support: 498 x 765 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by David Brown in memory of Mrs Liza Brown 2003
Reference
P11931

Display caption

Finlay’s garden includes a number of stone sculptures representing aircraft carriers, including a bird bath and a bird table. The idea of local sparrows taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier is typical of Finlay’s wit. This print pays homage to HMS Illustrious, the first British aircraft carrier. She was attacked by Stuka dive-bombers near Sicily in January 1941 and suffered extensive damage. After putting in at Malta for repairs, she was attacked again. The Latin phrase ‘Vox non incerta’ (‘With no uncertain voice’) is the motto of HMS Illustrious.

Gallery label, April 2005