IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

ARTIST’S POSTCARDS

POLITICAL CORRECTIONS, NUMBER 1. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
14.5 x 10.5cm, 1pp. printed black on red card. Two quotations - one from a letter by a Untersturmfuhrer of the Hitler Youth Division before the Battle of the Bulge and the other from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. Both quotations discuss the glory of death in battle. Finlay by this correspondence suggests that the views of both good and evil are often the same and "political correctness" (which sound very like "Political Corrections" tends not to allow one to consider the views of the defeated in anything other than negative terms. A final note says "The works of J. M. Barrie ... are often criticised for their supposed sentimentality." VG+.

WINDOW. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, n.d. (1995) 11 x 11cm, 4pp artist's card with a b/w reproduction of a painting by Philip Wilson Steer (who often painted his subjects looking out of a window) and inside the text:

Philip Wilson Steer Paints the Waves at Walberswick.

"window"

Finlay also notes on the inside left page:

"window" - tinfoil strips scattered from an aircraft to confuse enemy radar

making a poetic correspondence between the flecks of rain seen in the painting with the war decoy. VG+.

PEEWITS. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
14.5 x 10.5cm, 4pp. A drawing of the birds by Gary Hincks on the front of the folding card is matched by a poem internally:

The Stones of the Field are the Birds of the Air
peewits

Peewits or northern lapwings are ground breeders which lay their eggs in nests which they angrily defend. Hence the stones of the field hatch and fly. VG+.

EMBLEM. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, n.d. (1995) 9.9 x 11.2cm, 4pp artist's card with a drawing of a needle sewing on the front by Gary Hincks, and internally a poem by Finlay:

EMBLEM

Your needle and thread



in the sail of my Zulu.

Which is dedicated to Pia Simig.

On one hand the basic act of repairing sails is described but the practical help of someone in life (Pia was Finlay's lover and assistant) is a comparison. VG+.

KENNST DU. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1998
13.2 x 9.5cm, qpp card printed black on light blue. A quote from Goethe "Kennst du das Land, is in part translated by Finlay but with alterations (as in his Echoes series) - the land becomes the sea, the lemon trees become ships, flowers become orange net-floats and so on.".... VG+.

OVID, THE METAMORPHOSES. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
15.1 x 11cm, 2pp. A quote from Ovid of how a cottage was transformed by the Gods into a temple is set by John R Nash in an attractive typographic manner (with three different but similar fonts) and with the final lines "AND THE THATCH TO SHINING GOLD' printed in gold ink. The text is not an exact translation from the original but a reworking (itself a transformation).
Finlay is often attracted to Ovid's most famous texts and this description in many ways is also apposite to the creation of the Garden Temple in Little Sparta from an ordinary farm building. VG+.

2 NOTICES. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
5.1 x 5.1cm, 8pp, concertina fold single sheet printed black on dark blue. The two notices are 1. PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE BOATS and 2. PLEASE DO NOT SINK THE FLOWERS.
The first was one of the earliest Finlay works that was found in Stoneypath (before the renaming to Little Sparta) next to the Backdoor Pond. The second is a proposal to be placed next to the Giant Victoria Water Lillies in the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh - such lilies do look as if they cannot be sunk. The humour in both "notices" being the misuse of the verbs. VG+.

A SAIL IN PLATO. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
14.8 x 10.5cm, 1pp, Artist's card printed black on dark "gold". A quotation from the "Parmenides dialogue" where the divisibility of things is discussed is reprinted because of the use of the idea of a SAIL (the maritime imagery appealing to Finlay one presumes) and whether if it covers more than one man it is still a single thing. In the original a sail is compared to the sky - is the sky over everything or is just part of the sky covering the earth? VG+.

PURSE SEINE. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
10.5 x 15cm, 2pp, Artist's card with concrete poem drawn by Michael Harvey in orange and green. The words Purse and Seine are jumbled up the former words all on top, the latter below. The mass of the words comes to resemble the actual Purse Seine - a form of netting that is vertical and surrounds the fish - usually netting far more catch than more traditional formats. VG+.

FOR THE TEMPLES OF THE GREEKS…. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
8.3 x 19.2cm, 1pp, Artist's card with an elevation drawing of a modern warship with the various towers and gun placements being labelled as if they are the four types of classical columns found in Greek architecture. An amusing correspondence but the quotation "For the Temples of the Greeks our homesickness last forever" comes from Odysseus and his longing for the familiar sights of his home. That gives this war machine a poignancy that the forms of sheet metal itself are unlikely to encourage. The beauty of Michael Harvey's line drawing also makes the boat a thing of classical form.
This image was also a much larger print and one of Finlay's most popular late works. VG+.

I DO SET MY BOW IN THE CLOUD. 1995.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1995
9.2 x 8cm, 4pp, Artist's card with a photograph of a airplane smoke trail in the sky which vaguely resembles a bow with an arrow prepared to fire. Internally there is a quotation from Genesis 9:13: " I do set my bow in the cloud" - which Finlay responds as "contrail". VG+.

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