IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

ARTIST’S POSTCARDS

EMBLEM – FIRST AND LAST. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
9.5 x 15cm, 4pp, black on blue card with a text:

Emblem

After the bow, (a very long way after) and after the mast and the tabernacle, and the hatch, and the wheelhouse, and the thwart, and the sternpost, comes finally the rudder, which (all else being in order), gives direction to the boat."
First and last

The rudder is both first and last - first because of its importance to the boat's passage, and last physically. VG+.

EMBLEM – VARIETY IN UNITY. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
9.5 x 15cm, 4pp, black on brown card with a text:

Emblem

A boat carrying a much-patched sail, the patches of varied sizes, shapes and colours. The blade of the rudder, where it is visible is also patched."
Variety in unity.

Finlay enjoys the way something is constructed in components to make the whole more than the sum of the parts. VG+.

EMBLEM – PLOUGH. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
6.5 x 7.5cm, 4pp, black on grey card with a text:

Emblem

"Tallies - slips bearing the names of fishing boats and placed on top of their boxed catch - are all mechanically printed, except one to which the name has been added in an unselfconscious hand." then there is a box with a reproduced handwritten name "PLOUGH" in it. Below is
Luke 9:62.

Finlay has quoted that biblical passage before - it means to be optimistic and not look back. The handwritten tally may indicate that someone could not afford printing but it is left "unsubconscious"ly amidst the more expensive tallies. Additionally the name Plough reminds one of the Christian metaphor of fishing for men but with Finlay's often equivalence of farming the land and the sea. VG+.

WESTERN APPROACHES. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
6.2 x 19.7cm, 4pp, black on white card with light blue and green abstract drawing by Stephen Duncalf. Internally Finlay has the words "WESTERN APPROACHES"

The drawing seems to be of a highly abstract side of a battleship painted in the dazzle style which was a form of camouflage during the battle of the Atlantic. Such ships would sail east to west as escorts - approaching Britain with conveys bringing supplies. VG+

THE FLUTED LAND. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
9.9 x 26cm, 2pp, a colour photograph of the fields around Little Sparta by Pia Maria Simig. The image is overlaid with the title "THE FLUTED LAND" which comes originally from German literature (which Pia would know well). The quotation refers to the undulation of the fields, the ploughing of the earth but also to the music Pan would play in a mythical arcadian land. VG+.

4 SAILS. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
11.8 x 7.1cm, 4pp, printed black on brown. Finlay's poem reads:

4 Sails

Two Nile sails, two silent
turtle-doves.

Dream sail denied to thumb and
forefinger.

The down-at-heel sail of the
last Galway Hooker.

The Last Galway Hooker is a poem by Richard Murphy which tells the tale of a failing fishing boat and its path to restoration which en passant becomes retelling of the story of modern Irish history. VG+.

FZG 76. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
7.3 x 7.3cm, 4pp, printed black on blue. A drawing of a cherry stone being flicked away by a finger is on the front. On the back Finlay notes that the German flying bombs, FZG 76, V-1 or doodle bugs were codenamed "Kirschkern" - which means cherry stone. These were rocket propelled and once launched there was no control of the missile - much as one find a flicked cherry stone when sent away in such manner. VG+

MODEL. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
6.3 x 6.3cm, 4pp, printed black on blue. A drawing of an American warplane is joined by Finlay's poem internally:

Model

Port aileron down,
Starboard aileron up,
Slight left rudder -
Now it should fly straight!

Finlay describes a way in which an actual plane might guide itself through the air but at the end of the poem one realises the description is really the last alteration of the parts of the model he has just built. VG+.

HOMAGE TO BEKEN OF COWES. 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1999
15 x 10.7cm, 2pp, black on white card with a text:

l'invitation
de ce grand
espace blanc

Beken of Cowes was a photographer who specialised in marine photograph in the Solent and around the Isle of Wight. The "invitation to a large white space" is from a letter by Stephan Mallarme - one of the most important of concrete poets who used space to make meaning in his works. The comparison between the poet's work and the photography of seascapes is at the heart of this work. VG+

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY (2). 1999.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, n.d. (1999) 10 x 9.5cm, 4pp. Artist's postcard with an appropriated text about model making and the comparison as to how real navies staff their ships seeing the soldiers and sailors as "little men". The title "Thought for the Day" references a daily BBC4 section of the early morning news where religious figures are invited to give a short homily to the audience (who usually wait it out until the useful part of the show returns). VG+.

THE OTHER WAY TO EDINBURGH. 2000.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 2000
8 x 17.9cm, 4pp artist's card with a landscape drawing by Gary Hincks. Internally there is a poem by Finlay:

THE OTHER WAY TO EDINBURGH

(Farmsteads, streams,
serious woods),

the rainstorm's portcullis
closes the view.

One of a number of such cards with detailed illustrations of poems, in the same dramatic style, by Hincks all published in the same year. Finlay's reference to the rainstorm's portcullis is the raging rain coming down in sheets that look like vertical lines on the horizon. VG+.

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