Ian Hamilton Finlay

Even Gods have Dwelt in Woods (1976)

About this artwork

This work refers to a long-running battle that Finlay was involved in with Strathclyde Regional Council. The carving was first purchased by the Scottish Arts Council and subsequently 'kidnapped' by the artist's associates. It was then inscribed on the reverse with the names of the 'guilty' who were involved in the feud about the rateable status of a Garden Temple on the artist's property. The piece is one in a series of 'heroic emblems' in which Finlay combines a motto and an image. The line is from Virgil and the picture is based on a photograph of the American heavy cruiser 'Minneapolis' in camouflage.

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Finlay was born in the Bahamas to Scottish parents, who returned to Scotland when he was a child. He attended Glasgow School of Art for a brief period but began his career as a writer of 'concrete poetry'. Finlay's work investigates the power of images and symbols, particularly those associated with militarism, politics, classicism and nature. Creating an analogy between war and the forces of Nature, he highlighted the thin line that exists between creation and destruction, order and disorder, culture and chaos. His art presents a challenging and often complex fusion of poetry, graphic design and sculpture. In 1966 Finlay moved to a farmhouse in the Pentland Hills, south of Edinburgh, where he created a sculpture garden called Little Sparta to display his artworks in a natural setting.