Ian Hamilton Finlay

Nature over again after Poussin (1979 - 1980)

About this artwork

This work consists of eleven black and white photographs, each in halves, mounted separately in a hinged frame and accompanied by recorded flute music. The photographs depict the artist’s garden, Little Sparta, in the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh. The title of the work refers to Cézanne’s desire to ‘paint Poussin over again after nature’ but Finlay has turned the concept of painting nature upside down by creating photographs of real landscapes as if ‘signed’ by famous artists. Representations of the signatures of artists including Corot, Guercino, Salvator Rosa and Poussin appear, each carved in stone. Finlay intended the work to question the status of the garden, which he felt should be an extension of the home.

  • title: Nature over again after Poussin
  • accession number: GMA 2293
  • artist: Ian Hamilton FinlayScottish (1925 - 2006)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Installation
  • date created: 1979 - 1980
  • measurements: Each half print 49.50 x 29.20 cm
  • credit line: Purchased 1981
  • copyright: © By courtesy of the estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

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.