Alec Finlay: Your Name Here: Byames


‘we play names
and names play us…’

Alec Finlay has a long history of collaboration with artists, writers and the public through his work as a publisher and his series of postcard projects. This exhibition is a tongue-in-cheek selection of ‘bynames’ for artists and writers made into cloth strips and exhibited upon handkerchief squares presented on ironing boards and drying frames in the gallery. The work is also realised in neon and as a large site-specific wall-drawing.

In this series of Bynames, Titian becomes ‘Titan’, Ian Hamilton Finlay becomes ‘Iron Humility Finally’ and Gilbert & George are ‘Sherbet and Serge’….. to name but a few.
To compliment the exhibition there will be a selection of vintage handkerchiefs with Bynames and Your Name Here labels available for sale. Also a selection of book works.



Alec Finlay describes the work: “The bynames shown here are imagined names for real people. Bynames that we conjure for others are reinventions, generated by love or hate; the bynames that we take for ourselves are masks…… Most of the bynames here are new compositions. A fair number are my own invention; others were written in response to my open invitation. In their arrangements and the affinities that they discover they are poems.”


The word byname is borrowed from the Scottish tinker gypsies. In large communities where many people share the same surname it is common for individuals to be known by a nickname – pinpointing the person exactly within their own family structure and within the community at large.


The exhibition also includes a selection from The Archive of Wind Blown Clouds. This project encourages the public to document the skies above their heads to archive an ever-changing map of the sky. Participants are encouraged from around the world.


Alec Finlay has published two new postcards for this exhibition. These cards ‘Bynames’ and ‘Wind Blown Cloud’, are sponsored by the Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy.


Public Performance: Sunday 15th August 2004 1pm

Admission free