About this artwork

Finlay began his career as a writer and has since created many works of art like this one exploring text. He believed that words should not be “held captive” inside a book but instead set free as artworks. ‘IDYLLS END IN THUNDERSTORMS’ uses simple blue text to recall a powerful childhood experience. When Finlay was 14 years old he survived the Clydebank Blitz of World War II by sheltering under the kitchen table with his family. He recounted his feelings of terror during the experience, “We were shaken about like crumbs inside a paper bag which was blown up with boiling water and then abruptly burst”. Thereafter he was terrified of thunderstorms and would hide under his bedcovers when a storm approached. He later said to the writer Derek Stanford, “Are you afraid of thunder? I am terrified.”

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    IDYLLS END IN THUNDERSTORMS
  • date created:
    1986
  • materials:
    Housepaint on wall
  • measurements:
    Overall dimensions variable
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Presented by the Estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay 2009
  • accession number:
    AR01124
  • gallery:
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms
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Ian Hamilton Finlay

Ian Hamilton Finlay