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I did meet Ian Hamilton Finlay once...

S. and I made a pilgrimage to his extraordinary garden, Little Sparta; dropped in unannounced, in fact (you're supposed to ring up and make an appointment, which we we were going to do, but obsesssive fan that I am, I couldn't wait, so we detoured on the way North rather than making it official on the way South); and there he was, at the end of a long sheep dappled drive way, leaning on his gate, looking for all the world like a Highlands farmer rather than one of the best artists this hypocritical philistine nation has ever produced; he was lovely and gentle and welcoming (I love it when a hero exceeds your expectations, as also happened to me with Robert Frank and Harry Dean Stanton); obsessive fan that I was I went all gooey and silly and awestruck and could barely articulate a single sentiment, never mind the raft of disarmingly smart questions I'd intended to unroll (about Heidegger and Heraclitus and thorny Scottish melancholy) so I just politely enquired after his health (which had long been frail, from what I could gather); later, as we were stumbling around in a light Highland spring rain, vanquished by his garden's Sublime, I did manage to approach him again, and, obsessive fan that I am, produced a rare piece from my Hamilton Finlay library/collection and asked him if he would sign it... which, graciously, he did.

I'm looking at it now.

There lies his tentative signature, inbetween

"Maximilien Robespierre , 1794 ; Ian Hamilton Finlay , 1994


and


A Jacobin manifesto - political and aesthetic.

R.I.P., old soldier.

posted by Ian 3/28/2006 11:12:00 AM

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