Ian Hamilton Finlay

U.S.S. Enterprise


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Ian Hamilton Finlay 1925–2006
Screenprint on ceramic tile
Object: 153 x 153 x 6 mm, 0.2 kg
Bequeathed by David Brown in memory of Mrs Liza Brown 2003

Not on display

Technique and condition

One small round ceramic tile with a diameter of 153mm, 6 mm thick and weighing 0.202 kg. The glazed front has a stylised screen printed illustration and the text ‘USS ENTERPRISE’. Inside a slightly wobbly white line around the circumference of the tile is the inscription A CELEBRATION OF ◦ EARTH ◦ AIR ◦ FIRE ◦ WATER. This tile is one of an edition using the same image but in a different colour (T11767); and a version printed on a square tile (T11765).

Hamilton Finlay’s images for his series of seventeen tiles were executed by a commercial ceramic company. This tile was press moulded. The manufacturer’s inscription, ‘H&R JOHNSON LTD MADE IN ENGLAND 71 77’, can be seen between ridged rings on the unglazed reverse of the tile.

The front of the tile was glazed white and over glazed with a blue screen printed design. The blue printed circle extends to within 1 mm of the edge of the tile. The outlined image, the inscribed words and the circular line are all white base tile colour presenting through the blue. This was done by masking the design onto the white tile and removing the mask line after applying the pale blue colour. The screen-printed tile may then have been fired again or, alternatively, a glazing ink, which adheres to a glossy fired surface, may have been used.

The unglazed edges of the tile are slightly scuffed and dirty. Upon acquisition, the tile was surface cleaned to remove the small areas of dirt round the edges.

This tile can be displayed alone, or in conjunction with others in the series, either wall hung, or flat in a vitrine.

Sandra Deighton
September 2005

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