Celebrating Ian Hamilton Finlay

Photo of Little Sparta
'Portico' at Little Sparta
Photo © David Paterson

Renowned 'concrete poet' and garden-creator Ian Hamilton Finlay is the subject of an exhibition currently running at the National Library of Scotland.

Open daily until 1 June, 'Ian Hamilton Finlay: of conceits and collaborators' focuses on relationships the poet and artist has had with eminent photographers, printers, illustrators, stonecarvers and the like.

Born in 1925, Finlay was famed initially for his 'concrete poetry', in which the visual layout of words contributes to its overall effect and meaning. He went on to combine this art form with sculpture and garden design.

Little Sparta, his own garden in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, has now become widely recognised as one of Europe's most important contemporary art works.

At a Library event on 21 April entitled 'Ganging up against the void', poet Ken Cockburn looks at Finlay's development in the 1950s and '60s. These decades saw him progress from writing traditional short stories to gaining an international reputation as Britain's foremost concrete poet. Around 300 of his works are held in the National Library's collections.

A former Assistant Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, Ken Cockburn edits poetry collections, gives talks on Ian Hamilton Finlay and has collaborated on publishing projects with Finlay's son, Alec.

6 April 2005

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