About this artwork

Boats and the sea were central themes throughout Finlay’s career. 'Sailing Dinghy' comprises a clinker-built, sailing boat, which the artist himself sailed, installed alongside a short poem painted onto the wall. The dinghy’s bow, sails, rudder and stern are labelled with numbers referenced in the poem. The poem’s simple phrases evoke the power and movement of the vessel, encouraging the viewer to make a mental voyage from gallery to sea. The now static and landlocked vessel provides a contrast to this flight of imagination with its stillness and physical presence.

  • title: Sailing Dinghy
  • accession number: AR00021
  • artist: Ian Hamilton FinlayScottish (1925 - 2006)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Installation
  • date created: 1996
  • measurements: 602.00 x 440.00 x 140.00 cm
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © Estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

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.