Ian Hamilton Finlay
Tate Britain: Display
12 November 201217 February 2013
Free
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  • Ian Hamilton Finlay A Wartime Garden

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    A Wartime Garden [collaboration with John Andrew] 1989
    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay
     

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay Drum  1991

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    Drum 1991

    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay Je Vous Salue Marat [collaboration with Julie Farthing]  1989

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    Je Vous Salue Marat [collaboration with Julie Farthing]  1989

    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay Lead Us  circa 1967-8

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    Lead Us  circa 1967-8

    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay Osez  1991

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    Osez 1991

    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay Quin Morere

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    Quin Morere 1991

    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay, The World has Been Empty Since the Romans

    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans

    © The estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925–2006) was one of the most original artists of the twentieth century. Early in his career he was Britain’s foremost concrete poet and his approach to his work – whatever material he used, whether wood, stone, neon, bronze or paper – remained that of a poet giving form to ideas. This display focuses on Ian Hamilton Finlay’s recourse to a neo-classical idiom and his creation of sculptures that, by their conjunction of word and image, play with an emblematic use of reference and metaphor whose adopted form is most often that of the idyll.

Boat names evoke the pastoral activity of fishing and the landscape of the sea; the paraphernalia of naval warfare describes a bucolic idyll expressed as if a shaded garden temple; instruments of revolution and agriculture – a gun, a drum, a guillotine blade, a hoe, a spade – similarly harness the language of the seasonal metamorphosis in which a garden, like society, is ordered and celebrated through themes suggested by the French Revolution.

Drawn wholly from work by Ian Hamilton Finlay that is held within Tate’s collection, the display juxtaposes neon, wood, stone and bronze sculptures with printed works on paper – prints, as well as books and cards.