Cutts, Simon, 1944-

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Biographical/Historical Note

Ian Hamilton Finlay is a Scottish artist best known for his concrete poetry, his gardens which incorporate poetry and sculpture, and his penchant for controversy. He was born in 1925 in the Bahamas. His family returned to Scotland when he was a child and he was, briefly, educated there. He left school at 13, and served in the army (RASC) beginning in 1942. After WWII, Finlay began to write short stories and poetry. His first publication was The Sea-Bed and Other Stories (1958); his first book of poems, Dancers Inherit the Party, was published in 1960 (republished by the Fulcrum Press in 1969).

In 1961 Finlay founded the Wild Hawthorne Press (with Jessie McGuffie). The press published contemporary artists, although it increasingly concentrated on the work of Finlay, in innovative and kinetic forms. In 1962 Finlay started the periodical, Poor. Old. Tired. Horse . Edited by Finlay, the title comprised 25 issues when it ended in 1968.

It was during the early 1960s that Finlay turned from rhymed poetry to concrete poetry. 1963 marked the publication of his first collection of concrete poems, Rapel, and his first poem/card, Standing Poem I . He participated in the First International Exhibition of Concrete and Kinetic Poetry, held in Cambridge in 1964, and the ICA's exhibit, Between Poetry and Painting, in 1965.

In 1966 Ian and Sue Finlay settled at Stonypath (in the southern uplands of Scotland) and began building their famous garden. They turned one of the buildings on their ca. 4 acre site into a gallery. This subsequently became the Garden Temple, and the source of Finlay's battles with the Strathclyde Region Council when they refused to give him a rate exemption for a religious building. Finlay's protracted skirmishes with the Scottish Arts Council began in 1978 and became known as the Little Spartan War. (Stonypath was renamed Little Sparta.) This "war" included several "battles" between the SAC and the group of Finlay supporters known as the Saint-Just Vigilantes. These and other battles have been memorialized in Finlay's printed and sculptural works. Finlay was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1985.

From the guide to the Ian Hamilton Finlay papers, 1948-1992, (Getty Research Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf CUTTS, SIMON. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
referencedIn Susan Howe papers, 1894-2008, 1956-2008 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Susan Howe papers, 1894-2008, 1956-2008 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Coracle Press. Coracle Press collection, 1972-2007. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Coracle Press. Coracle Press records, 1953-2008. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Van Horn, Erica. Reference files of envelopes received ... Yale University Library
creatorOf Ian Hamilton Finlay papers, 1948-1992 Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Van Horn, Erica. Collection of seven Coracle postcards, 2004-2006. University of Delaware Library, Hugh M Morris Library
referencedIn Howe, Susan, 1937-. Susan Howe papers, 1894-2008 (bulk 1956-2008). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf CUTTS, SIMON, 1944-. Franklin Furnace artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Finlay, Ian Hamilton,. Ian Hamilton Finlay correspondence, 1962-1969. A-F. The Sage Colleges Libraries
creatorOf Finlay, Ian Hamilton. Ian Hamilton Finlay papers, ca. 1948-1993 (bulk, 1967-1992). Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Van Horn, Erica. Reference files of envelopes received ... Yale University Library
creatorOf Cutts, Simon, 1944-. Cutts, Simon. School of The Art Institute of Chicago, John M Flaxman Library
referencedIn Coracle Press records, 1953-2008 (bulk 1975-2001) Getty Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Coracle Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Duncan, Ronnie person
associatedWith Finlay, Ian Hamilton. person
associatedWith Gardner, Ian person
associatedWith Howe, Susan, 1937- person
associatedWith Murray, Graeme person
associatedWith Stanford, Derrick person
associatedWith Torok, Karl person
associatedWith Van Horn, Erica. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Concrete poetry, English
Mail art


Birth 1944





Ark ID: w6f4876v

SNAC ID: 4230572