Letters + Documents

IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

LETTERS + DOCUMENTS

LETTER TO CHARLES ROWE FROM SUE SWAN. 1965.

20 x 12.5cm, typescript on yellow paper. A letter sent by Susan Swan to a potential client offering price lists and mentioning the "new series" of large prints or as Sue Finlay writes: "visual creations that fall into a visual category" that the press is publishing. "We hope they will eventually be a series representative of international contemporary visual and concrete poems." Signed in blue ink.

HANDWRITTEN SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO ROBIN CROZIER & ADDENDUM DISCUSSING “EXERCISE X” PROJECT IN DETAIL. 17 SEPTEMBER 1970.

Little Sparta: Finlay, 17 September 1970.
21 x 18cm, 2pp carbon copy typed letter on white paper which is hand signed at the end in ink. A letter to the British Fluxus artist Crozier discussing the proposed EXERCISE X book which the two artists were collaborating on. The letter discusses in detail the print and typography options for the book, Finlay arguing for subtle, nuance where possible where the letter X in the book changes. Finlay says "I must stress that I don't consider this booklet profound. Everyone knows that nuance exists. On the other hand, I get pleasure from showing how much one can change a thing while scarcely from the spot , as it were. If we make dramatic (moving) differences between the visual representations of the Xs, we will undermine the whole point. If, for instance, "Two" and "Duet" are just noticeably not the same 2 crossing lines, we can rely on the words to complete the distinction, without taking it further than that.
Likewise, "Duck-pond" needn't really try to depict the wakes left by 2 swimming ducks, but just by the merest alteration in the lines, allows the words to modify the image. Though obviously, if we had a blue rectangle on white one, there, and could have the lines white instead of black that would be pleasing."
JOINT:
A further two pages - both 21 x 18cm, 1pp carbon copy typed letter on white paper (recto only and stapled top left) with hand corrections by Finlay explaining the EXERCISE X book in greater detail. An important letter showing the degree to which Finlay's work method relied upon small considerations and great attention to detail. The book was planned to have a free style drawn X on each right hand page along with two hand drawn words of text. "The text is , in every case, a verbal modification of an X, and the rendering of then X's by the artist/calligrapher should echo this modification to some degree." The book in essence is how the smallest of changes can alter the meaning of something as much as possible.
Finlay lists the various texts which will alter the X's - The Windmill, The Stitch, The Net, The Kiss, The Cancellation, The Duck-Pond, The Ten, The Two, The Duet. All being able to be represented by an X - some more obviously than others (for instance, the Duck Pond is two crossing wakes from swimming ducks).
Finlay mentions the use of colour but accepts that is down to expense but he would ideally like a brown X at The Net and a red one at The Cancellation and a blue one at the Duck-Pond etc. "The actual details of presentation will have to be decided in terms of the cost." "Probably a very small format would be nicest."
JOINT:
A hand addressed mailed envelope to Crozier in Finlay's hand. Carefully opened.

HANDWRITTEN LETTER FROM FINLAY TO ROBIN CROZIER. 13 OCTOBER 1970.

Little Sparta: Finlay, 13 October 1970.
21 x 18cm, 2pp blue ink on white paper. A handwritten letter to the British Fluxus artist Crozier

Finlay apologises in the letter for not completing the artist's book EXERCISE X which he had promised to Crozier to publish. "It was silly of me to suggest in the first place".
joint:
Hand addressed and rubber stamped envelope which has been neatly torn open.

ORIGINAL SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO CHRISTOPHER CARRELL DATED 5.10.1971

21 x 17.8, 1pp. Original typed letter on red Wild Hawthorn Press stationery to Christopher Carrell of the Sunderland Ceolfrith Bookshop asking about sending stocks of publications to the bookshop, the possibility of sales to others and mentioning the Ron Costley's Street Handout leaflet (an early Finlay exhibition announcement) and mentioning a dispute over invoices with a filmmaker Michael Radford which Finlay felt had over charged for petrol. The letter is signed Aye, Ian. VG+.

ORIGINAL SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO ANTHONY PHILLIPS DATED 12.1.1972

21 x 17.8, 2pp (stapled together). Original typed letter on green Wild Hawthorn Press stationery to Anthony Phillips complaining about invoices received from Michael Radford for travel and other expenses during a film-making session at Stoneypath. Finlay points out that the bill for £7 seems excessive from Edinburgh and that he had fed Radford who then made a very short period of filming before returning home. The signed letter has a PS at the end moaning about some steel sculpture in Stirling . It is not clear if the film was ever completed or released but Finlay clearly felt aggrieved about it all. We do not know Phillips' relationship to this dispute. VG+.

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ORIGINAL SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO CHRISTOPHER CARRELL DATED 12.1.1972

21 x 17.8, 1pp. Original typed letter (red ink) on green Wild Hawthorn Press stationery to Christopher Carrell mentioning Finlay's letter to Anthony Phillips, giving Carrell Ron Costlery's address and informing him that he had written to Douglas Hall. The letter is signed Aye, Ian. Not the most insightful of documents it has to be admitted. VG+.

ORIGINAL SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO CHRISTOPHER CARRELL DATED 27.1.1972

21 x 17.8, 1pp. Original typed letter on green Wild Hawthorn Press stationery to Christopher Carrell continuing the discussion about invoices received from Michael Radford for travel and other expenses during a film-making session at Stoneypath. Finlay says that Anthony Phillips states he has nothing to do with him Finlay amusingly asks Carrell why he sent a£10 cheque - "if it was for your SIns, it is not enough; if it was to pay for some order , it may well be too much....". The letter is signed Aye, Ian. VG+.

CARBON COPY OF SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO CHRISTOPHER CARRELL DATED 22 APRIL 1972 WITH HAND ANNOTATIONS.

21 x 17.8, 4pp (each recto only, stapled top left). Original carbon copy of a typed letter on red Wild Hawthorn Press stationery to Christopher Carrell of the Sunderland Ceolfrith Bookshop. A long discussion of the budget and content of a putative exhibition of works by Finlay. at the MacRobert Centre at Stirling University. The original budget and size of the exhibition seems to have been reduced to Finlay's unhappiness but he is willing to continue to create new work. Interestingly the costs to create the works are discussed here as well as other prosaic matters as to why some works are not going to be made - including a fear relating to one glass sculpture that "the students would kick it in". An interesting letter in relation to the way such a show was organised and how Finlay couold easily be upset when things did not go immediately as planned. The letter has some hand-written annotations by Finlay in black in and it is signed in ink by Finlay also. Slight wear but over all VG+.

HANDWRITTEN SIGNED TYPED LETTER FROM FINLAY TO BOOKSELLER CARLTON WILLERS. 11 NOVEMBER 1975.

Little Sparta: Finlay, 11 November 1975.
21 x 18cm, 2pp (both recto) original typed letter on white letter head note paper (PAN incorporating PICK) which is hand signed at the end in ink by Finlay. A letter to Carlton Williers- which firstly explains the PAN letterhead - "so far as I know I am the only Scottish Garden Poet and the letterhead is just to keep me company".
Willers (of Philadelphia) was a known collector of art and a friend and one-time lover of Andy Warhol.
Finlay then thanks Willers for his "kind letter: and happily agree to let him stock the press' publication. Finlay bemoans the lack of a new York outlet for his work and he hopes Willers might make a difference.
Finlay points out that the Press now has a much greater inventory of printed material and encloses some lists of available works as well as pushing the medallions and ceramic tiles - "People rarely buy the tiles from the list and rarely fail to buy them if they actually see them.)"
A 33% trade discount is offered and there is a short discussion on how many US bookshops had cheated Finlay by "simply not paying"

XEROX COPY OF LETTER TO ROD GATHERCOLE 22.12.1977.

33 x 20.5cm, 1pp xerox copy of a letter sent by Ian Hamilton Finlay to his friend and collaborator Rod Gathercole relating to a set of epigrams Finlay called Persiflages. The letter notes some examples (not all eventually used) such as "My favourite flowers are leaves.". The letter also points to Finlay supplying outline sketches for drawings. The book was later published with drawings by Gathercole. VG.

HANDWRITTEN NOTE BY SUE FINLAY TO HARRY WARSCHAUER. 1980. ON MOTORING CHOCOLATE SOLDIER (PANZER GRENADIER) CARD.

Dunsyre: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1980
11.3 x 16.6cm, 1pp. A handwritten "reminder" note from Sue Finlay to Harry Warschauer asking for payment of £9.91 for publications from the Wild Hawthorn Press. The card is the Motoring Chocolate Soldier (Panzer Grenadier) from 1976. Some creases from the mailing process.

SPIRIT DUPLICATE OF LETTER FROM FINLAY TO STRATHCLYDE CONSUMER PROTECTION DEPARTMENT. MARCH 1981.

Little Sparta: s.p. (Finlay), 3 March 1981
30 x 21cm, vintage spirit duplicate of a reply to Finlay from the Strathclyde Consumer Protection department: Finlay had asked the department to take up a complaint against the Region's own Financial Collection Agencies. The department indicates that they do not regard the "Wild Hawthorn Press" as an individual and therefore refuse to act on Finlay's complaint.
The xerox is a poor copy but legible.