Ian Hamilton Finlay / Edinburgh Arts Festival 2012

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Ingleby Gallery’s exhibition for the 2012 Edinburgh Art Festival begins with a re-discovered moment of genius by the late Ian Hamilton Finlay. Carrier Strike (1977) is a classic Finlayesque clash of the heroic and the domestic: in this case an epic air/sea battle played out on the surface of an ironing board. Photographed by Carl Heideken and set to music by John Purser, the ironing board becomes an aircraft carrier, surrounded by destroyer irons and small model planes amongst cotton wool clouds. Like all Finlay’s best work, the ideas are layered and delivered with gentle humour.

Three boulders, carved with the names of Japanese war planes, become stepping stones from the war-zone of Carrier Strike to the garden works that dominate the rest of the exhibition, recalling the most familiar of Finlay’s ‘detached sentences on gardening’ that Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.


The garden, gardening, and specifically man’s relationship with and against nature, provided the backdrop for Finlay’s life’s work. At the heart of this exhibition are a group of garden works that turn the gallery into a colony of Little Sparta, the classical garden and self-styled ‘Raspberry Republic’ that Finlay built over 40 years and which cradled so many of his artistic and philosophical beliefs. Carved stones, garden stiles, brick paths and bronze spades are marshalled into the service of Finlay’s ideas, interwoven with reference to the classical world, the French revolution, the sea and the world at war.
The Little Sparta Trust will run bus tours from the Ingleby Gallery to Little Sparta in the Pentland Hills, an hour south west of the city on Fridays during this summer’s Edinburgh Art Festival. For more information follow this link.

This summer’s exhibition at Ingleby Gallery will be the first of several Finlay celebrations for 2012; followed most notably by a major presentation of Finlay’s work at the São Paulo Biennale in Brazil in September, and in London at Tate Britain in November.
For further information or images about the exhibitions or related events, please contact Ingleby Gallery on 0131 556 4441 or email info@inglebygallery.com

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