‘Ian Hamilton Findlay’ Exhibition Comes to Gracefiled Arts Centre

A new exhibition comes to Gracefield Gallery 1 on 20 August with a selection of works by renowned artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. The artist was born in 1925 in Nassau, Bahamas, where his father’s business was running alcohol into prohibition USA. In due course he was sent back to a prep school in Scotland until his parents returned to Glasgow where he continued his education at school and the Glasgow School of Art. In the 1950s he produced a notable series of short stories and plays and in the 1960s emerged as one of the leaders of the concrete poetry movement, becoming, over the next 40 years, one of Scotland’s most distinguished artists, with work exhibited in the great museums of the world.

He is probably best known for Little Sparta, the garden he created in the midst of a bleak Scottish moor – using that natural landscape and working with his collaborators to create a setting for his artistic ideas. In 1964 he founded, with Jessie McGuffie Sheeler, the Wild Hawthorn Press and its periodical poetry sheet: ‘ Poor. Old. Tired. Horse’ – price 9d, sold at the University and in the Edinburgh pubs by a band of young enthusiasts. Thereafter, Finlay’s body of work, through the press and in his commissioned installations in cities and countries throughout the world, was unceasing and prolific, though he rarely left his hillside home in the Pentlands where he lived from 1966 until his death in 2006.

The Wild Hawthorn Press served as a nursery of ideas for Finlay’s sculptural and garden works and for Little Sparta’s publishing, or disseminating, arm. The themes at Little Sparta, engaged so often with incisive wit, are ones often first examined and then re-examined in Wild Hawthorn imprints.  Jessie Sheeler, who lives in Dumfries and Galloway, has loaned her personal collection of prints, postcards, tiles and small sculpture works to this special exhibition, which will also feature some of Gracefield’s Scottish art collection.  Join us from 2-4pm in the gallery on the 20th August to chat to visitors about Jessie’s experience of working with Finlay.  Free, no booking required with refreshments served.

Councillor Tom McAughtrie, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee commented: “Ian Hamilton Finlay is one of Scotland’s most important artists, with works held in the collections of the Tate, the National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Museums, so it’s a delight to be able to enjoy his art here in Dumfries and we are grateful to Jessie Sheeler for sharing her collection with us.”


Gracefield’s other exhibition: ‘Not to Scale’, performance costumes by Alex Rigg, is still running in Gallery 2 and has been hugely popular with locals and tourists alike.  There are still tickets left for the live performance on 20th August 7-8pm, and also a chance to try out some textile skills for yourself, with textile up-cycler, Jolanda Bastien.  Jolanda will be in the gallery on the 3rd September for a clothes swapping day and back from the 6th-9th to chat to visitors about re-cycling and re-using fabric.  Check out the Gracefield facebook page for more details.


For full details, please give us a call or visit the Council website at www.dumgal.gov.uk/gracefield

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