Ian Hamilton Finlay at Kettle’s Yard

This weekend I renewed my membership of the Botanic Garden, just in time for today’s merciless snowstorm. I may give it a couple of days. From February, however, it will possible to get a preview of spring, as the Orchid Festival gets under way in the glasshouses. The glasshouses are pretty warm year round, even in a snowstorm. This year’s festival has displays of orchids dotted throughout the tropical house, with a focus on plant-insect pollination relationships.

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It’s a bit early to get out in the garden much, but in addition to the orchids in the glasshouses, other surrogates are available, notably an exhibition of the poetry and art of Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) at Kettle’s Yard. Finlay, who enjoyed a long friendship and correspondence with the originator of Kettle’s Yard, Jim Ede (hence the exhibition), suffered badly from agoraphobia, the solution to which was the making of a garden in the Pentland Hills in Scotland, a garden which was also a sort of poetic text, containing numerous lapidary inscriptions, allegorical features, classical allusion, and so on, as explained by Finlay’s son in this short film for the Tate Galleries.

The exhibition at Kettle’s Yard runs until 1st March. Read a review of the exhibition here.

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