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This article is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

The Forest and the Revolution Jonathan Buckley

The relationship between human activity-political, military, aesthetic and erotic-and nature has been a predominant aspect of Ian Hamilton Finlay's work for many years. Last year his Nature Over Again After Poussin exhibition concentrated upon the way in which our perception of nature is mediated by our culture's aestheticizations of landscape; in the words of Hans-Georg Gadamer, quoted in the catalogue, 'How nature pleases us belongs . . . to the context that is stamped and determined by the artistic creativity of a particular time.' In a series of provocative aphorisms Finlay has promulgated a neoclassical vision of the reciprocity of the natural and man-made; to take a random example, in his 'Excerpts from a New Arcadian Dictionary' (Finlay's Arcadia is an extension of that of Poussin's 'Shepherds of Arcady', a world informed at every point by the knowledge of mortality) one finds the following definition- 'Leaves, n.pl. the parts which represent Summer in a camouflagenet.' Since May a range of pieces has been on exhibition in the Finlays' Garden and Garden Temple at Stonypath, Lanarkshire, gathered under the title The Forest and the Revolution. Most of Finlay's major concerns are represented in this group of interconnecting exhibitions.

The garden, as one of Finlay's aphorisms reminds us, is at each stage of its existence moving towards a projected state ('Gardens are always for next year'), and the Stonypath garden is now changing into a more strictly classical environment. (For an excellent description of the garden prior to the ...


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