Letters + Documents

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, n.d. c., 2016.
30 x 21cm, grey on white letterhead for the archive of Ian Hamilton Finlay and the Wild Hawthorn press. The Director is Pia Simig. An unused sheet which was printed after Finlay's death and after Little Sparta was converted into a trust. VG+.

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Two different announcement cards for exhibitions by John Furnival on the back of which is a lengthy hand written note in black ink noting that a librarian at the former Bath Academy had contacted Furnival about Robertson's interest in the early portfolios Furnival printed at the college.
He noted that he had completed one with Finlay: "Headlines/Eavelines" and others with dsh and "Eddie" Morgan as well as one by himself. The note explains how only 20 of each portfolio were made and that a further portfolio with Ernst Jandl was planned but aborted after only 3 prints were made. The missive continues noting how Finlay had allowed Furnival to continue distributing "After The Russia" despite a full stop being missing in the text.
Furnival then noted his boat-prints for the Wild Hawthorn Press and how Finlay "cast me back to Athens from Little Sparta (after refusing to beat up Stuart Mongomery!)."
Furnival then invited Robertson to call him and supplied a number .
Robertson relates the tale told to him by Furnival in the subsequent call about how Finlay had hosted Montgomery for a few days at Little Sparta (then Stoneypath) but had fallen out with him during the drive to the train station where Finlay left him off so that he could go to Furnival next. Furnival received a call from Finlay while Montgomery was in transit "asking me to punch Stuart in the face as soon as he got off the train which of course I refused to do". Thereafter Finlay refused to talk to Furnival for not administering what he saw as justice for a slight and their collaborations ended.
JOPINT: Original mailing envelope franked 22 September 2003.

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Little Sparta: s.p. Finlay, n.d. (c. 1990s)
21 x 30cm, 11 pages all original xerox printed one side only and stapled three times on left to create a document. The letter (annotated later with short remarks by Finlay) was sent originally in 1962/1963 to Cid Corman who edited Origin (one of the first publications to put Finlay in print) where he praises the magazine, talks about how he writes and feels isolated in doing that and unsure of what he is doing is good and discusses his own mental health (he complains about anxiety). Attached are a number of poems in traditional form from The Dancers Inherit The Party. AN insightful document indeed.
This was sent to Janet Boulton in July 1999.
JOINT:
KNOWING THE LAND WHERE NEON BLOOMS: IAN HAMILTON FINLAY'S INSTALLATION IN ERFURT. n.p.: s.p., 1999 30 x 21cm, 3pp (recto only) stapled. An essay by Harry Gilonis about Finlay's installation of neon works. JOINT:
XEROX COPY OF ARTICLE IN JOURNAL OF GARDEN HISTORY BY STEPHEN BANN. 1981. 30 x 21cm, 13pp (recto only) stapled. An essay by Bann about Little Sparta with lots of phtographs. JOINT:
31 x 21.5cm, original mailing envelope with handwritten notes of the contents by Finlay. Torn badly when opened at top.

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21 x 20cm, 1pp xerox copy of two letters to the Scotsman with the headline " SAINT-JUST'S SCOTTISH CONNECTION" . the first letter from Hamish Henderson after noting a document that directly links Saint-Just to Scottish affairs of the 1790s but goes on to scoff at the idea that Finlay is a Nazi. The other letter is from Alexander Stoddart on behalf of the Saint-Just Vigilantes again in support of Finlay. This was a xerox copied by Finlay and distributed to friends and supporters in his regular mail-outs as was his habit.

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Little Sparta: Finlay, 24th September 1993
An original vintage xerox 30 x 21cm, 1pp with a round robin letter from Finlay to all of the Saint-Just Vigilantes.
The letter thanks all those who wrote to the Scottish Arts Council to support Finlay in his battle against the Strathclyde region. However Finlay informs his supporter that the SAC have decided not to make any further statements on the matter other than their replies to those letters. SAC had suggested that Little Spartas legally become a Trust but Finlay points out that is not possible given the region's extant legal actions. He also indicates that any impression that the SAC was helping the financial upkeep of the garden was not true - they had offered a "very small sum of money" with conditions attached which made it impossible to accept.

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Little Sparta: Finlay, 20th July 1993
An original vintage xerox 30 x 21cm, 2pp with a round robin letter from Finlay.
The letter explains that the legal action taken by Strathclyde region over the supposed debt relating to the Garden temple will, if successful, mean the end of the garden as an "expression of Revolutionary Neoclassicism; it will be defined as a tourist attraction and commercial enterprise, and its only resort will be to close". Noting that the Scottish Arts Council had effectively remained silent on the matter and that he Finlay had been unwell and "unable to take action as he did in 1983 and at other times when the garden was threatened. Supporters are asked to ask the SAC to take action in support of Finlay "now".

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Ontario: Peter Day, 27 July 1989
10.5 x 15cm, 2pp card with printed logo and a hand-written note from Peter Day mentioning that he has included a set of 8 stickers and 2 texts works which he collaborated with Finlay on. "They were streetworks put up in appropriate locales on Bastille Day. They also serve as a vanguard of the Finlay show I'm doing that opens September 16th, 1989 in Toronto. More street works for that & an extensive publication documenting the "French Affair:. How are you & Andy Goldsworthy? Urgently await his material."
JOINT:
Unaddressed printed envelope with a design by Day.

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N.p.: n.p., 1988
23.5 x 21cm, 18pp (recto only). A xerox copy of the Meulenkamp article as a contribution to the Maatstaf magazine. The article is packed with mistakes and lies - it claims that Little Sparta is full of works with Nazi symbolism (there are indeed some but the inference here is that Finlay is a Nazi which is stupid. He also notes he is writing the article in a spirit of "revenge" - Finlay had complained about a book written by Meulenkamp which claimed Little Sparta was a "folly" which again it clearly is not. The polemic claims Finlay's wife came up with many of his ideas and also calls Finlay's work "shallow" which is just about the last thing most critics would claim of these multilayered works. Amazingly Meulenkamp actually publishes names and addresses of people who wrote to him criticising him. It is a nasty bit of work by someone who clearly has the intelligence to know better but has given in to his baser nature.
One can only imagine Finlay's reaction when this article was sent to him.

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Little Sparta: Sue Finlay, n.d. (May 1988)
An original vintage xerox (recto) of a circular letter from Sue Finlay to "Inez" (Inez Horst-Aletrino - a Dutch painter who was close to the Finlay family).
Sue Finlay explains that she has just returned from France where she met Donimique Bozo of the Ministry of Culture with her lawyers. She notes the coming election meant it was very hard to meet politicians. She intends returning to meet the Minister of Culture and the President in June.
"Meantime it becomes more and more clear how evil this witch-hunt truly is. Attempts have been made to use the whole machinery for pursuing Nazi war criminals! Jonathan Hirschfield has approached Simon Wiesenthal and the Jewish congress as well as "employing" Michel Blum of the soidisant Ligue des Droits de l'Homme to discredit and destroy us. God alone knows what lengths these people will go to in order to prevent justice being done."
She continues to ask if Inez can help by writing to newspapers and journals.
This was a circular letter sent out to several people (with the name of the recipient written in to the xerox and hand signed.


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Little Sparta: Finlay, 4th May 1988
Two original vintage xerox stapled sheet (both recto) of a letter from Finlay to "Inez" (Inez Horst-Aletrino - a Dutch painter who was close to the Finlay family).
Finlay points out that his life has been a "nightmare" following the accusations of Catherine Millet and he notes he is inclosing for information his statement for a "right of reply" in France as well as a "transcript of the radio broadcast which led to the cancellation of the Versailles project".

Finlay points out that "none of those taking part have ever seen our garden. The broadcast is LIES and INVENTIONS designed to destroy Sue and I. Never before have I encountered such EVIL. It has changed our lives for ever."

An important letter showing the impact the controversy was having on the Finlay family at the time.
JOINT:
Twelve 30 x 21cm, original vintage xerox sheets (all printed recto) with a transcript (in French) of the radio programme hosted by Stephane Paoli in which Catherine Miller, Michel Blum and Catherine Duhamel discuss Finlay and libel him with charges of being anti-Semite. Millet begins by claiming a work (OSSO) has a SS double lightning strike symbol on it and makes the rather simplistic reading of the work that it is pro-nazi. They then raise the matter of Finlay's commission by the French government of a major public work and Blum claims that Finlay's correspondence with the jailed Albert Speer is further proof of national socialist sympathies. The programme continues in the same vein - Millet makes several claims about works in Little Sparta (works she had never seen) that were evidence of National Socialist sympathies eg the washing line that Sue and Ian Finlay joked was called the Seigfried Line (a joke that is obvious to those of British background as there was a popular anti-Hitler song of that name in the second world war "Hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line".
An important document that documents the outrageous way in which the French critics used lies and exaggerations to stoke public anger against Finlay his and eventually cause the commission to be withdrawn by the French Government without any explanation.
joint:
Handwritten cardboard envelope addressed to Inez Horst-Aletino from Finlay.

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Little Sparta, Finlay, n.d. A handwritten note on a blue Raspberry republic letterhead (other similar RR letterheads were usually in red but Finlay had a store of different stationery to be used in different situations as suited his needs) to Edward and Sam. +Finlay notes tha "the cats are fed for today. Your can ate eat vegetables from the allotment + the (?) from the pantry (?) ands the freezer.

There are clean clothes on the beds.
Love Ian."
Just a friendly note left for visitors staying at Little Sparta. It is nice to hear the cats were being well looked after. We do not know who Edward and Sam were.

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Little Sparta: Finlay, n.d. (c. May 1988) An original vintage xerox 30 x 21cm, 1pp statement from Finlay which is worth quoting in full:
"What is happening today in respect of Kurt Waldheim and Paul de Man is not a natural process of criticism - it is the systematic, vivisection, carried out by the obscene Mengales of 'democratic' letters. What is been demanded of fellow men - yes fellow men - is not that they made the correct moral decisions in their own time, not even simply simply that they were super heroes but they predicted and fell in with the pseudo moral linguistic fashions of 40 years on. Very well, let us anticipate the day when our vivisectionists are asked, not what they had to say, with on remarkable hindsight, about the deportation of the Jews, but what they had to say, looking around them, about the deportation of Arabs. And more, let us anticipate the question to be put to us: Did (sic) the huge inhumanity of these Mengales not produce in you a single letter of protest - not one tear in your eye, not one ache in your heart? Oh how brave you are, you who regard yourselves as exempt from history. See how you always fight those battles which others one for you a long time ago."
Kurt Waldheim was an Austrian politician who it was revealed to have been implicated in Nazi mass murder when he tried for a second time to become Austrian President in 1988. Paul de Man was a literary critic and philosopher who after his death had his previously unknown articles supporting collaboration with the Nazi revealed. Finlay seems to be arguing that moral positions cannot be taken aside from the historical context that they were made in. This is probably the least convincing of Finlay's arguments as Waldheim does seem to have known about the murder of Yugoslavian resistance fighters - which perhaps was not known at the time. But one can say it is a valid argument to make even if one does not ultimately agree with it.

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