This exhibition juxtaposes one of Finlay's most celebrated early visual poems, "Star/Steer"(1966) with a new neon representation of a rose made in response to artist's work by Cerith Wyn Evans. All of Finlay's work stems from his fundamentally poetic view of the world.
Wall painting and installation
We are delighted to announce the 9th in our series of 26 exhibition pairings: a previously unseen wall painting by Ian Hamilton Finlay and a new neon installation by Cerith Wyn Evans.
Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925 – 2006) needs little introduction. A unique and at times controversial figure within 20th century British art, Finlay remains one of our greatest artists. He created what is arguably his most important work, the classical garden at Little Sparta, over a period of about forty years and this extraordinary place, in the bleak hills at Dunsyre to the south of Edinburgh, is now widely held to be Scotland's “greatest work of art” (Scotland on Sunday, 2004). It is a fusion of so many of his artistic ideas and principally of his concern with man’s relationship to nature.
This exhibition juxtaposes one of Finlay’s most celebrated early visual poems, 'Star/Steer' (1966) rendered as a wall painting by one of his long-standing collaborators Les Edge, with a new neon representation of a rose made in response to Finlay’s work by Cerith Wyn Evans. The neon will be installed on the gallery ceiling and Wyn Evans will place a small digital radio, tuned to catch the local shipping news, nearby.
In his tribute to Ian Hamilton Finlay, Wyn Evan’s specific reference is to the rose as it makes its most frequent appearance within Finlay’s work: in the names and numbers of fishing boats (TUDOR ROSE OB220 / XMAS ROSE A635 / TEA ROSE FR346 / ROSE VALLEY KY45) and as a symbol of the boat tossed tragically onto the rocks: 'A Rock Rose'. Wyn Evans' emblematic rose is originally sourced from the logo of a Japanese department store but refers (obliquely in this instance) to the long history of the rose as an artistic motif: from Medieval literature, to Duchamp and to Gertrude Stein whose “a rose is a rose is a rose” is itself borrowed by Finlay in his garden at Little Sparta - “a rose is a rose is a rose….is a watering-can”.
'Star/Steer' itself evokes a poetic idea of the sea - the word star is repeated line after line, falling down the wall in a rippling column suggestive of starlight on water; and at the bottom, riding the waves, is the word steer, the boat itself. The shape is a zigzag - the passage of a boat tacking left to right….the rose guided by the stars.
IAN HAMILTON FINLAY was born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1925 and was brought up in Glasgow and the Orkney Islands. He emerged in the 1960's as a leading figure in the concrete poetry movement, and over the following 40 years earned a reputation as one of Scotland's most distinguished artists: a poet, philosopher and gardener whose work has been exhibited in the great museums of the world despite Finlay himself rarely leaving Little Sparta. Recent exhibitions include 'Sentences' at Inverleith House & 'L'Idylle des Cerises' at Ingleby Gallery, both in Edinburgh in 2005, and 'Maritime Works' at Tate St Ives in 2002. Ian Hamilton Finlay died in March 2006. Ingleby Gallery continues to represent his estate and to distribute his printed works published by the Wild Hawthorn Press.
CERITH WYN EVANS was born in Wales in 1958 and began his career as a filmmaker, initially as an assistant to Derek Jarman before making short experimental films. Since the 1990's, his practice has incorporated installation works, sculptures, photography, film and text. His installations have a strong conceptual clarity, but often rely upon the perception of the viewer to trigger layers of reference and association built within. Recent exhibitions include at MIT List Visual Arts Centre, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004), Kunsthaus Graz (2005), BAWAG Foundation, Vienna (2005), and Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (2006). Cerith Wyn Evans lives and works in London.
We would like to thank White Cube, London for their help with this exhibition.
Image by Ian Hamilton Finlay "Water cooled Watercress".
Opening saturday 20th october 2007
6 Carlton Terrace, Edinburgh