IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

ARTIST’S POSTCARDS

XMAS STAR. POEM PRINT No. 11. 1969. CHRISTMAS CARD. SIGNED BY FURNIVAL.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1969
11.7 x 16.4cm, 4pp. Christmas card with the image of a fishing boat by John Furnival along with the Port Letters (FR), the Fishing Nos ((87), the Radio Call Sign (MWCZ), the gross tonnage (53) and its name (Xmas Star). A visual poem by Finlay which one year later was joined by related work Poem/Print No. Xmas Rose released as the Xmas card for that year. Both Xmas cards were also published as much larger prints by the Press.
Finlay's interest in boat names and numbers is reflected in the beauty of Furnival's line drawing. The boat is a poem on water.
This example has a pencil greeting inside on the blank pages "Best Xmas Wishes from John Furnival". VG+.

SKYLARKS. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
5 x 7.5cm, 4pp. Small artist's postcard with an uncredited drawing of boats with flying birds above on the front and internally the text:

SKYLARKS
Skylarks are ground birds with aerial songs".

The boats (not exactly grounded but on water) are being compared to the flighty acrobatic birds. It is worth noting that boats with sails and riggings have a certain twanging and flapping noise that is in some ways harmonious - reflecting Finlay's dictum about skylark song. VG+

VALSES POUR PIANO. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
6 x 9.2cm, 1pp. Small artist's postcard with the text "VALSES POUR PIANO" in silver above "(Water Music)".
La Valse was a "poème chorégraphique pour orchestre (a choreographic poem for orchestra)" written by Ravel in the 1920s. Initially a ballet it came to be usually just performed on piano without dancers. The timing is that of a waltz. The reference to water music brings the work back to a focus onnature and how sounds such as running water can be melodious.
JOINT WITH:
Original small white envelope for posting.

STILL LIFE WITH LEMONS. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
12.3 x 17cm, 2pp. Blue and black on white artist's postcard with a photograph of a boat with colour annotations (words) to different parts of the vessel. Lemons being a common theme of classical still life paintings, Finlay also often compares boats with lemons. Here by the addition of the colours is able to make the image even more like both a domestic scene and a seascape. VG+.

AZURE & SON. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Full colour artist's postcard with an image of a sundial made by Finlay for later installation in the High Street in Biggar. The stone work which was inscribed with the text "AZURE & SON. ISLANDS LTD. OCEANS INC." cut in slate by Michael Harvey. This was the first colour postcard that Finlay published under the press' imprint.
Azure of course is the bright blue that is usually associated with the sky on a bright lovely day - and as a result a friend to a sundial that works best on such bright days. The three references to Azure/islands/Oceans - therefore cover the full landscape of sky, land and sea.
The text was originally a poem published in A Sailor's Calendar by the Something Else Press but in a letter to Stephen Bann (Page 80 of Midway, 2014) Finlay explains that the work is to be sited on a traffic island (hence the Island reference) and that "& SON/Ltd./INC." places the work relative to local commerce (Finlay refers to traffic in the sense of both vehicle movement and economic activity). Finlay also notes he is pleased the the work would be in Biggar where his rival/enemy Hugh McDiarmid lived. A sculptural two finger salute.

ARCADIAN SUNDIALS. 1970

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
10.5 x 15cm, 4pp. Artist's postcard with a line drawing by Margot Sandeman of a garden gate and various flowers.
The text inside the card reads:

"ARCADIAN SUNDIALS. All Times on these sundials are Solar Time."

The elements of the garden all cast shadows and can be regarded as measures of solar time. This card is signed "love from Margot (Sandeman)" in ink and is else VG+.
With original unprinted postal envelope.

FROM “THE METAMORPHOSES OF FISHING NEWS”: 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970 12.5x 6.8cm, 2pp. The card is the one of a series that reproduce phrases found in journals and newspapers together to tell a quasi-story or visual poem. Here the headline "SHETLAND BOATS TURN TO SCALLOPS" is on the surface a tale of a change in fishing strategy - but of course it also can be read as a amusing transformation of the boats into shells. This reminds one of the classical tales of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" where every story is of a change in form for a participant (thus the use of 'metamorphoses' in the card's title). Additionally scallop's hollowed out shells have the shapes of boat hulls and Finlay has chosen an outline font for the main text which reflects that hollowing out in some typographic analogue way. As ever, several meanings are to be found in a simple work. Fine.

A WATERLILY POOL. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
15 x 10.5cm, 2pp. The card has a drawing by Gardner on the front of a floating water lily. the text below "A WATERLILY POOL/h'arbour" reminds one of the way the leaves in a water lily can enclose a space of water and also a shelter for small insects or even fish - hence an arbour of sorts. VG+.

LES HIRONDELLES. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
14.9 x 10.4cm, 2pp. Blue and black on white silkscreen to create an artist's postcard. Seemingly a musical work with quavers on a stave, the drawing by Ron Costley also looks like birds sitting on telephone wires. Les Hirondelles is the French for swallows - the small, fast flying birds which have a distinctive tripartite song - much like the grouping of the notes here. VG+. A lovely card and if one is musical one could play the notes.

A PATCH FOR A RIP-TIDE : SAIL. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
11.6 x 16.5cm, 2pp. Red and black on white silkscreen on card. The text is overprinted on a flat red but with a white vertical dashed line. A rip-tide is a fast current of water that moves directly away from the shore (hence usually regarded as dangerous for swimmers) and the white line represents that as well as a tear in a paper or sail. Hence the red can be also seen as a sail with a repair (stitching). The colon in the text falls exactly on the white line also - in some way a second "patch". VG+

SHEAVES. THE SEA’S WAVES. 1970.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorne Press, 1970
15 x 15cm, 6pp. Paper sculpture and fold out card - the text is the SEA’S WAVES’ SHEAVES creates a visual correspondence between the movement of water and a field of barley or wheat - both corn and water move rhythmically due to the wind but once the vegetation is tied together it becomes a solid manifestation much like a boat. Printed blue and silver on white thick card. VG+.

A USE FOR OLD BEEHIVES. 1970

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1970
11.2 x 11.2cm, 4pp. Green on white card. The image on the front is a drawing by Richard Demarco of a beehive that has fallen over in snow. Inside the text "A USE FOR OLD BEEHIVES./An old beehive upturned on the lawn, makes a suitable receptacle for snowdrifts." The drawing has falling snow that could be seen as bees in a different not winter context. Published late in the year one is tempted to assume this drawing was from an event at the Finlay farm and this is a festive card in some sense.

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