Tag Archives: Ian Hamilton Finlay


Polygraphs is a group exhibition exploring truth, fiction and evidence in a complicated world. Centred around Abstract (2012), a two-channel video work by Berlin based filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl, gifted to Glasgow Museums’ collection last year, the exhibition is drawn entirely from Glasgow Museums’ collection.


Abstract, 2012 Hito Steyerl Two channel HD video with sound 7 minutes, 30 seconds Image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl Image courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Artists are often witness to a changing global environment and their role within that culture is to document, ask questions and create layers of meaning to engage audiences with current international discourses. Thus, Abstract provides a frame through which to encounter other artists interested in interrogating dominant historical narratives and our relationships to the arms trade, colonialism, the slave trade and feminism.

Polygraphs reflects GoMA’s long-standing interest in research and evidence based documentary artworks. The exhibition includes works from the last 100 years and poses questions about the relationship of museums to the histories, identities and politics that they represent. By re-displaying older works alongside more recent pieces the exhibition reactivates truths and fictions still relevant today.



The resource space and public programme for Polygraphs has been developed in conjunction with graphic designer Neil McGuire and Cyber-Crannog

Note: Abstract was presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Collections Fund, 2015. It marks the first work by Hito Steyerl to enter a public collection in the UK

ARTISTS: Jane Evelyn Atwood, Muirhead Bone, Boyle Family, Gerard Byrne, Graham Fagen, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Beth Forde, Alasdair Gray, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Hockney, Wyndham Lewis, Peter Kennard, kennardphillips, Barbara Kruger, Scott Myles, Anthony Schrag and Hito Steyerl


What a packed few months it’s been here at GoMA!

I’m now six months into my internship and my enthusiasm for the role is at an all time high from the amount of exciting events that have taken place.

On a research trip to Edinburgh we visited exhibitions at the Fruitmarket Gallery, the Dovecot Studios, Stills and the Collective’s new building. Perfect for a lot of instagram photos … and also conversations around contemporary art!

On the 17th of February we had Take Over Day with pupils from Hyndland and St Constantine’s primary come and take over the jobs in the museum. I worked with the Caroline and with two pupils as they took over her role as a Learning Assistant. They devised a fantastic workshop based on Ian Hamilton Finlay which they then delivered to their co-workers and which will be used as a Saturday Art Club on the 29th of March. Check out this article in The Evening Times that covered the day!

A personal delight for me this month was participating in the KennardPhillips Workshop. I find their work both relatable and provocative. I was nervous that I would show myself up with my lack of experience and knowledge of the art world, particularly since we would actually be making art, which is not something I’ve claimed to have done since I was very little! However, the atmosphere in the workshop was completely relaxed and both artists took time to discuss my work and introduce me to new techniques which I really appreciated.

Later in the evening they made a very moving performance that brought their work to  life in the atmospheric setting of Gallery 1. Again their relaxed approach gave the audience the opportunity to question them on the context and creation of their work. I do feel that this was yet another once in a life time opportunity I’ve had since starting at GoMA.

On the same day as the KennardPhillips performance was the long awaited opening of Atelier Public #2. The exhibition is a ‘space to play’ where the public are responsible for making the art work! It’s been so exciting to see the blank walls of the gallery be transformed each day. My internship has a lot to do with the theory behind museums and art galleries and the role that they have in society. Museums have reputations of being stagnant, quiet places that try to constrict children, or anyone of any ages behaviour. Now people are being invited into the gallery to be creative, be loud (especially loud as there is a microphone for your own use!) and above all to have fun!

I’m particularly intrigued about the idea of a ‘Destruction Event’ on Thursday 10th of April. At first I didn’t really grasp the purpose of the event, however, as Katie the curator of the show reminded me, part of playing is destroying or tidying up what you’ve made! Knocking down the dominoes, sweeping away the clutter or peeling glue of your sticky hands has always been one of the most satisfying aspects of playing. Don’t worry though everything’s fully photographed and documented and the public are free to come and save their artworks!

These last six months have made me even more excited for what we have coming up this summer so stay posted for further information!

Becca McSheaffrey

Intern of Generation and Co-Production at the Gallery of Modern Art


KennardPhillips Workshop.

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Slideshow from the Saturday Art Club 2 November 2013 (including Play me I’m Yours Glasgow)

In June 2013 when dissertations had been handed in, exams had been graded and Graduation Day loomed it was time to revaluate the goals that I had for the last four years. I no longer had the excuse of essays and exams and now had to tackle the scary concepts of my ‘next step’ the ‘career path’ and just the ‘becoming a full functioning adult’ in general.

My degree in History and Politics from the University of Strathclyde gave me some good options to consider, teaching perhaps or further study. However, I knew at this point I wanted to have an opportunity to apply these transferrable skills’ that I was assured would accumulate over four years at University, in a more practical sense.

The Museum and Galleries Scotland Intern programme caught my eye immediately, specifically the opportunity to be an Intern at the Gallery of Modern Art. This offered a chance to work on an upcoming public engagement programme and would involve working with a number of different groups to engage them in contemporary art.

For the last two months my supervisor Martin, the Learning and Access Curator has been making sure I have every opportunity to learn about how museums and galleries operate. This has included visiting a number of different sites and events such as; Tramway, Trongate 103, GMRC, Scotland Street, St Mungos, MGS Conference, the Burrell Collection, Mary Mary and the Scottish Learning Festival. Not only has Martin introduced me to a side of Glasgow arts that I have been so woefully ignorant about, but has also kept up a stream of explanations, introductions and answers to all the silliest of questions. It’s because of this that I now feel empowered and excited to begin working on the upcoming project.

Anna, Annette and Caroline the Learning Assistants were kind enough to let me shadow the schools workshops. Workshops include teaching pupils a practical skill such as sculpture or printing. These sessions proved as invaluable to me as to the pupils as I learnt the skills along with them. This helped me create my own theme for Novembers first Saturday Art Club.

The theme was centred around creating 3D Masks inspired by Ian Hamilton Finlay’s ‘Three Heads’ that are currently on display. I was pleased to have an opportunity to put in practice what I had learned and to see adults and children working together on their creations!

Given that my academic history was not focussed on art I was pleased to have the opportunity to have a tour around the galleries with by Curator of Modern Art, Sean as an introduction. This was followed a tour around the newly opened Living With War Exhibition with the other Curator, Ben. All of this information was quickly added to the bank of ever growing knowledge and appreciation for modern art.

Next came Katie, who took the time to talk through the Social Justice programmes that GoMA has worked on. This provided me with valuable information on how an art gallery can be more than just a building in a square, but a motivator for discussion, ideas and above all become a place of inclusion and social expression.

Everyone at GoMA has effortlessly made me feel part of the team already. The open and creative atmosphere full of trust and support means I face the next year of my internship with enthusiasm and excitement. I hope I can share the experience with all of you!

Becca McSheaffrey

Intern of Generation and Co-Production at the Gallery of Modern Art

Walking Tour: Glasgow’s Hidden Art

GOMA led a walking tour around Glasgow City Centre to discover sculptural gems, both old and new. All the people present were part of Glasgow Health Walks network – Free walks up to an hour long led by volunteers –

Health Walks deliver an array of social benefits including making people fitter, healthier and improving their mental health.

We were very lucky with the weather and started the tour at the Gallery of Modern Art, moving on outside to the statue of the Duke of Wellington by the artist Carlo Marochetti with the ever present and infamous traffic cone atop his head. We then made our way down to the river Clyde to view La Pasionaria by the artist Arthur Dooley as seen in the photo. From there, we walked further on to get a good view of a disused railway bridge. The artist Ian Hamilton Finlay had the words ‘All greatness stands firm in the storm’ in both English and Greek carved into the concrete pillars as his contribution to a city-wide public art project in 1990 – Glasgow’s year as European Capital of Culture. This artwork was great to see as it ties in with the show on in GOMA at the moment: ‘Ian Hamilton Finlay – Poet, Artist, Revolutionary’ on until spring 2014.

A short distance away is the Merchant City area of Glasgow where we walked past traditional sculptures, decorative art and contemporary installations. On the wall on Tontine Lane we were intrigued to find a neon sign stating ‘Dug out canoe found AD 1871’ by the artist Louise Crawford and architect Ian Alexander. This artwork sparked interest and discussion amongst the group about the rich history of Glasgow. In all, the walk took two hours to complete and was an interesting and healthy way to discover the city.

Another walk is programmed on Sunday 25 August 1.00–3.00pm. FREE, drop-in.

Please meet at the entrance at GOMA, places are limited.

Little Sparta – the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Little Sparta – the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

GoMA’s Learning team made a visit to Little Sparta at the end of June to gain further insight into the work of the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. The new display of his work is now open in Gallery 3: Poet, Artist, Revolutionary.

Little Sparta is situated in the Pentland hills, near Edinburgh and is approximately a 50 minute drive from Glasgow. We were very lucky with the weather on the day of our visit and this allowed us to explore the garden at our leisure taking in the sculptures and breathtaking views.

It was certainly a very relaxing place which allowed a quiet time for contemplation. It brought understanding and clarity to be surrounded by the sculptural, poetic and landscaped elements created by Ian Hamilton Finlay. The garden can be enjoyed alone or in a group. I really enjoyed walking and taking my time to read the inscriptions on the various sculptures, each person visiting will be inspired by something different here. The tranquillity and surrounding views brought to life to poems such as:

little fields long horizons
little fields long for horizons
horizons long for little fields

You could spend a long time here as there is so much to see. It was nice to re-group and to be taken to things that I had missed such as a small, concrete bird’s nest halfway up a tree. I can see why Little Sparta is regarded as Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work as it obviously took a great deal of time, thought and effort to create something of this scale. As it is a garden it is subject to damage due to weather and requires constant care The Little Sparta Trust continues to conserve it for future generations.

The exhibition in Gallery 3: Poet, Artist, Revolutionary is well worth a visit and there is plenty to take in. However, a visit to Little Sparta has deepened my understanding of the themes and vision of the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. I would highly recommend it. For further information please visit:

Ian Hamilton Finlay: Poet, Artist, Revolutionary installation shot

Ian Hamilton Finlay: Poet, Artist, Revolutionary installation shot

Join us on Thursday 20 June, during opening hours, for the opening of a new major exhibition in Gallery 3, Ian Hamilton Finlay Poet, Artist, Revolutionary.

Ian Hamilton Finlay is one of Scotland’s most important artists of recent times, working across poetry, sculpture and printmaking to create a body of work that is both politically stimulating and rich with innovative ideas. Combining his love of poetry and graphic design, he pioneered concrete poetry; a method which uses typography as a design feature to create text based artworks, which are displayed in the exhibition.

The exhibition is also a fantastic chance to view a number of previously unseen prints from our collection, and the re-installation of two of Finlay’s major sculptural pieces; A Patriots Room and The Three Heads. The works were commissioned by the gallery at the time of its opening in 1996, and will be displayed especially for the exhibition in the bridge of Balcony 2.

At the end of his career Finlay also created Little Sparta, which was voted as Scotland’s most important work of art in 2004. The garden features some of Finlay’s most prolific site-specific work, which includes land art and sculpture surrounded by the picturesque Pentland Hills, in South Edinburgh. If you’re interested in viewing the garden, visit the Little Sparta website to find out more and arrange a viewing.

To coincide with the exhibition, we feature a number of special printing workshops in our summer programme.

Saturday Art Club
29th June, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Printing Workshop, for families and children aged 3 -12

Printing Week
22nd – 25th July, 10.30am – 12pm
A drop in family workshop for ages 8 – 12

GOMA Bites
22nd September, 1pm – 3pm
Printing Process,
A free drop-in activity for adults at the gallery, where we’ll be explore different printing process employed by Ian Hamilton Finlay.

For more information on these workshops, and other events around the city, please visit the Glasgow Life website.

Thank you very much to our current intern from the University of Newcastle, Stephanie, for this blog post.

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