Region: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North East
Alec Finlay is an artist, poet and publisher. Much of his work reflects on our interaction with nature and considers how we, as a culture, or cultures, relate to landscape in an era of climate change. The range of forms that he has employed is incredibly diverse: neon text; found objects; innovative poetic forms such as the mesostic and circle poem; major interventions working with windmill turbines; multiples, as well as print and web-based media. Finlay describes his work as ‘microtonal’, combining a number of smaller elements within a wide field. He often works collaboratively, weaving together art and text to create generous experiential works, some mapped directly onto the landscape, others woven into the fabric of our social selves, accessible on-line, via mobile phones or name-tapes.
Recent projects include Specimen Colony (2008), a permanent artwork for the Bluecoat. A poetic meditation on dwelling and diaspora, attuned to Liverpool as a city of departure and arrival, trade and migration; here Finlay adopts the familiar form of the nest-box to create a portrait of the contemporary hybrid city. For this collaboration Jo Salter was invited to interpret the colours and patterns of birds, gleaned by Finlay from a myriad selection of ‘specimen’ postage stamps from around the world. These were realised as painted nest-boxes chained in trees outside the gallery. The same procedure of colour specification – applying digital technology to natural elements – produced Finlay’s Apple Colour Wheel (2010). Here the ‘family’ of forms are native apple species, accompanied by a series of replica glass apples, and a gift of apple trees to residents of a housing estate in Sunderland.
Another of Finlay’s collaborations, this time with the renowned field-recordist, Chris Watson, enacts a scenario of contemporary Romanticism. siren (2006) is a litany from Tim Buckley’s ‘Song to the Siren’, repeated endlessly, as we drown in desire.
Born in Scotland in 1966, Finlay is an internationally recognised artist and poet who works across a range of media and forms; poetics, sculpture, collage, audio visual and new technology. In residencies at BALTIC, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and NaREC (the New and Renewable Energy Centre) he has produced a series of acclaimed participative projects, from innovative publications to windmill turbines. He has published over 20 books and won 2 Scottish Design Awards. Recently he has conceived Home to a king (3), a nation-wide project on biodiversity, installing a series of nest-boxes in gardens, parks, and woodlands. Alec Finlay currently lives and works in Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.