Concrete poetry at Kettle’s Yard and the Ruskin Gallery

I’ve just had a busy few days immersing myself in concrete poetry starting with a talk given by Professor Stephen Bann at Kettle’s Yard on Tuesday all about Ian Hamilton Finlay, his combination of art and poetry and his connection to Cambridge. For those of you who have been to Kettle’s Yard you will have seen the large pebble inscriped with the words ‘Kettle’s Yard/Cambridge/England is the/Louvre of the/pebble’ and probably wanted to know more! Now you can. The pebble is on display in Kettle’s Yard’s latest exhibition is entitled ‘Beauty & Revolution: The Poetry and Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay’. It’s next to a book with a whole list of sentences on pebbles that the poet-artist wrote, some of which are really thought provoking.

Professor Bann, who knew Ian Hamilton Finlay and had spent time at his his house Stonypath spoke of the artist’s love of pebbles saying that almost every pebble in Stonypath has an inscription. Finlay’s feeling was that pebbles only really counted for culture when inscribed. This point of view was really quite the opposite of Jim Ede who filled Kettle’s Yard with pebbles but none of them were inscribed. (Not until the 1995 Open House exhibition at Kettle’s Yard when Finlay’s sentence about pebbles was inscribed on one.) Bann remembered Finlay’s interest in the Henry Moore sculpture (Head) in Kettle’s Yard of which he said ‘this time Goliath throws the pebble’ (the head being sculpted from a large pebble).

The exhibition is running until March 1st so there is time to catch it if you want to. If concrete poetry is your bag then you should also pop along to the Ruskin Gallery at Anglia Ruskin University to the exhibition ‘Graphic Constellations: Visual Poetry and the Properties of Space’ which is on until 21st February. You’ll find work by Ian Hamilton Finlay there as well as Liliane Lijn, Hansjorg Mayer, Ann Noel, Edward Wright and Frank J. Malina.

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