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"This is a modest, gentle, rewarding show, enlivened by Finlay's loquacious letters to Bann that reveal his thought processes."
The Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925–2006) first met and began to correspond with Jim Ede, the founder of Kettle’s Yard in 1964, “Ede and Finlay were wary friends, and the exhibition is a vibrant dialogue between two opposing approaches to art”, The Financial Times (December 2014). In the same year, a group of Cambridge students had started to exhibit and write about his work. Among the students was Stephen Bann who went on to become an expert on the artist.
The exhibition, devised by Professor Bann and coming from his private collection, traces Ian Hamilton Finlay’s artistic development from the poems that made him Britain’s most internationally acclaimed concrete poet to the images and texts that marked his engagement with the ideas of the French Revolution. It also presents his famous garden, Little Sparta, in photographs and film.
Visitors can explore this collection of often vividly coloured and beautifully designed standing and folding poems, prints, cards, emblems and inscriptions. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s works range from the witty and whimsical to the dark and thought-provoking. Recurring themes include classical writers, maritime subjects, the French Revolution and war.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. You can buy this catalogue here.
The gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11.30am-5pm. Please always check our Planning Your Visit page.