You are on Susan Tichy's web page
George Mason University  Main

Ian Hamilton Finlay
"Evening will come 
They will sew the blue sail"

The garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay,
a fusion of poetics, sculpture, & landscape

Ian Hamilton Finlay Home Page

  Gateway page to a Finlay profile
& to the Wild Hawthorn Press

Ubu Web: Visual Concrete Sound
Several items on Finlay, including
Letter to Pierre Garnier, 1963

Little Sparta photos
Philip Hunter, Hipeis Gallery, 1995

David Peterson
Several pages of  B&W & Color photos, viewable & offered for sale
Search for Finlay & find a page of links
to Finlay works on line, including:

The Stuart Collection, University of California
which includes a biographical outline

Tate Gallery, London
where you can register, then save
selected images for another visit

Art Gallery of New South Wales
20 photos of Finlay works

Forest of Dean
won't let you go directly to the Finlay
images, so you'll have to search

From The Telegraph, 2002
Review of a show at The Tate

Jacket 15 Finlay Feature, 2001

"The Death of Piety: IHF in conversation
with Nagy Rashwan"

Brian Kim Stefans on Finlay

Mark Scroggins: "The Piety of Terror: Ian Hamilton Finlay, the Modernist Fragment, & the Neo-Classical Sublime"  Excellent introduction to Finlay in a literary context, republished from
Flashpoint Web Issue 1 (Spr 1997).

"Avant Gardener," a 2003 profile
The Guardian

Ian Hamilton Finlay Papers
at The Getty Research Center, Los Angeles

Finlay Manuscripts
at the University of Indiana's Lilly Library

The Scottish Poetry Library
has a nice collection of Finlay works on paper

as does the library of Glasgow University

Print Resources

Finlay's two early books of poems are The Dancers Inherit the Party, 1960, reprinted 1962 & 1969, and Glasgow Beasts, An a Burd, 1961, reprinted several times up to 1965. Glasgow Beasts, denounced by Hugh MacDiarmid, was an important forerunner to Tom Leonard's Glasgow vernacular poems. A small selection of lyric poems published over forty years has recently been collected in The Blue Sail, edited by Thomas A. Clark (Glasgow: Wax 366, 2002).

The indispensible introduction to Finlay is Yves Abrioux's Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer. The revised second edition (1992, 318pp, oversized) was published in Britain by Reaktion Press & in the US by MIT Press. Includes essays by Abrioux and by Stephen Bann, a chronology & a bibliography of Finlay's works, over 200 images, and some of the early poems.

For the garden itself, nothing compares to a visit. In the meantime, content yourself with Jessie Sheeler's Little Sparta: The Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay (London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2003). Sheeler's text runs alongside a stunning collection of photographs by Andrew Lawson.

Commentary on Finlay can be fugitive, much having been published in exhibit catalogs or scattered across many disciplines, in journals devoted to art, architecture, gardening, and, more rarely, literature. Wood Notes Wild: Essays on the Poetry and Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay, edited by Alec Finlay (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1995) includes excellent introductions to Finlay by Sue Innes, Stephen Bann, Edwin Morgan, and others, as well as commentary on individual works, exhibits, or phases of work. In all, more than 25 essays, poems and comments are collected here, with about 20 photographs and images. 

Another source of biographical information, appraisals, and reminiscences is a special double issue of the Scottish literary journal, Chapman (78-9), devoted to Finlay. Highlights from this collection include extracts from Finlay's letters to the Austrian poet Ernst Jandl, Jenny Penberthy's "A Posse of Two: Lorine Niedecker and Ian Hamilton Finlay," and an essay by Alec Finlay linking his father's work to that of Emily Dickinson and Susan Howe.

Poiesis: Aspects of Contemporary Poetic Activity, edited by Graeme Murray (Edinburgh: The Fruitmarket Gallery, 1992), includes Finlay in two essays: Thomas A. Clark's "Poetry and the Space Beyond," and Francis Edeline's "Flowers and Fragments: On Ian Hamilton Finlay and Mary Ellen Solt," (translated by Ken Cockburn), both of which place Finlay, and poetry itself, in a zone of formal play that defies genre.

Stephen Scobie's Earthquakes and Explorations: Language and Painting from Cubism to Concrete Poetry (University of Toronto Press, 1997) begins with the Cubists' use of language and the gender narratives of early Modernist painting, then moves on via Apollinaire, Kahnweiler's history of Cubism, semiotics, Gertrude Stein, and Delauny to Gadji Beri Bimba and Ian Hamilton Finlay. Finlay is the argument's destination, and the book pivots, finally, on Finlay's relationships with Juan Gris and with the iconography of the French Revolution. A draft of the last chapter, "Models of Order," is included in Wood Notes Wild.