Proposals

IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

PROPOSALS

SIX PROPOSALS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF STOCKWOOD PARK NURSERIES. 1986. SIX PRINTS IN FOLDERS.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1986
Six separate prints - each 27 x 34cm in unprinted folders and outer printed folder. One of 250 copies.
Each print in this portfolio reproduces a drawing or watercolour in one colour for Finlay's six proposals for the garden nurseries in Luton. Each proposal is a definition of a word associated with open nature such as "Flock" but with a classical Greek twist. Drawings were by Gary Hinks.
Ref: Murray 6.18.

THE TEMPLE OF BARA. 1986.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1986
41.5 x 24.0cm, blue, red and black on white offset lithograph with a drawing by Mark Stewart of a porposed monument to celebrate the martyr Bara "the little drummer boy". Bara had been killed trying to squash the anti-revolution Vendée war and was killed by royalist counter-revolutionaries, supposedly while he was shouting "Long live the Republic!". His body was interred at the Panthéon along with other national heroes.
Clearly the Pantheon was not enough as Finlay proposed this bandstand which has architectural details that look like the side drum carried by Bara and a huge republican cockade.
One of 300 printed. Slight marking (early foxing?) to the white paper at top edge else VG.

A PROPOSAL FOR A MONUMENT TO JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU. 1986.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1986
27.5 x 50.5cm offset lithograph folding print in original printed folder. The drawing of a landscape by Gary Hincks is printed in such a way that the unfolded card reveals a proposed large public sculpture - an optical illusion of a "vase" shape cut out from a wall with "JJR" painted bottom left. The cut-away allows more of the wild landscape to be shown. Limitation not known. VG+ in like folder.

A PROPOSAL FOR THE ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON CLUB. 1987.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1987
27 × 27cm, black and cream offset lithograph on thick paper in original printed paper folder.
Finlay's proposal for a monument to the Scottish writer was a plaque on rough stone to be set amongst a grove of birch trees. The plaque was to have a "one word poem" on it - "A MAN OF LETTERS. / R.L.S./1850 - 1894". The obvious wit being the use of the capital letters RLS which Stevenson was often referred to by reflected by the term "man of letters" which means someone involved in the literary world.
Fine in like folder.
Unlike some of Finlay's proposals this work was installed in 1989 in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens but the original birch trees died and were replaced.
The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association Edinburgh Sculpture Project notes: "Unfortunately, the original birches did not thrive, and were replaced a few months later so that the tree does not line up with the base as Finlay intended. Here, the classical tradition of architecture is returned to its roots in the tree." Still it is one of the very best of Finlay's public art works (unlike the awful fruit baskets at Hunter's Square at the Tron Church only a mile away)

A REMEMBRANCE OF R.L.S. 1987.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1987
58.0 x 39.5cm, offset lithograph print in original printed folder. The putative monument's elevation and plan by Gary Hincks is printed one above the other.
Finlay's proposal for the work included five straight stemmed silver birch trees planted amongst cobbles and a "tree-column base" at the bottom of the middle tree: tree-column bases were a sculptural innovation by Finlay where the tree could continue to grow (the base was a semi-circle allowing expansion to the back) but the base of the tree would have a permanent stone marker. The base in this proposal was planned to have the letter's R.L.S. - the capitals that Robert Louise Stephenson was often known by.
Finlay regarded the use of the birches symboling of Stephenson's interest in the Scottish landscape and the neo-classical base as a reference to RLS's childhood association with Edinburgh's New Town. The installation was eventually installed in Princes Street Gardens but the birches didn't flourish and had to be later replaced slightly incorrectly.
One of 200 copies released - VG+.

A SHADED PATH. 1987.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1987
10.2 × 47. 5cm, 4pp single sheet of paper in in unprinted paper folder. The sheet when opened is 10.2 × 95cm. B/w offset lithograph with a proposal for a path entirely made of bricks with the word "Virgil" on them, on the left are texts - the first is a quotation which says "With only slight exaggeration one / might say that Virgil 'discovered' the evening..." / Erwin Panofsky, the rest are a description of the proposed path of 78 clay bricks and a note that "The path is no for the foot to walk on but for the mind to follow..." and a reference to the minimalism of Carl Andre's Equivalence works building to an "elegiac classicism". Virgil, of course, was Dante's guide to the underworld. VG condition.

SIX TREE-COLUMN BASES. 1988.

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1988.
Four 29.3 x 38.2cm, offset lithographic prints in a folder - three of the sheets are drawings by Iain Stewart of the proposed column-bases for trees (essentially sculptured bases in stone with text that are placed at the bottom of a tree trunk.
Here the trees are to be planted in doubles next to each other each with a double column-base. There are three sets proposed - TWO FRIENDS - with the names of LeBas and Saint-Just (both comrades in arms and both part of the French Revolutionary Terror); TWO VICTIMS - Camile (Desmoulins) and Lucile, his wife - both of whom were murdered by Robespierre's fiat; and TWO MARTYRS - the brave Corday (Charlotte) who murdered the evil Marat in his bath - but as Finlay points out both were regarded as Martyrs by their supporters.
The forth print in the set acts as explanatory colophon for the portfolio. To my mind one of the best Finlay proposals.
Slight tear bottom right in the folder which minorly affects each print.