Twin Temples. To Apollo. His Music. His Missiles. His Muses

  • Artist: Ian Hamilton Finlay
  • Creation date: (1993)
  • Object type: Sculpture


Ian Hamilton Finlay was a highly versatile artist and writer who published his first book in 1958. He also wrote concrete poetry, where textual pictures and typography combined to form an overall work of art, and created sculptures, installations, and garden art. Finlay’s poetry often served as inscriptions on stone sculptures that he placed out in nature. Along with his wife he created Little Sparta, a large garden complex near Edinburgh, which in 2004 was voted “the most important work of Scottish art”. The complex, which includes garden temples and a great many sculptures, is a meeting place between nature and culture.

Certain themes were of particular interest to Finlay: fishing and the sea, the Second World War, the French Revolution, and the classical authors of antiquity. In addition to exploring such formal aspects as colour, form, texture, format, and composition, he was keenly aware of the power of language and art to influence and shape how we perceive the world.

Twin Temples. To Apollo. His Music. His Missiles. His Muses consists of two pillars of black marble, each resting on a base. At the bottom, three rings run around the pillar’s circumference, above which a series of Doric columns is drawn. Each pillar supports an architrave, of which one is adorned with pictorial elements showing lyres combined with a sort of doublebarrelled cannon, while the other has an inscription in gold letters corresponding to the title of the work. Apollo was the god of poetry, music, and archery, and the title evokes Greco-Roman antiquity, while the cannons refer to the carnage of war. The artist thereby combines classical mythology with the technology of modern warfare.

Text: Marianne Yvenes

From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0


Ian Hamilton Finlay

Born 1925, death 2006

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Tvillingtempler. Til Apollo. Hans musikk. Hans missiler. Hans muser. (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
granitt og marmor
  • Length: 42 cm
  • Height: 140.3 cm
  • Width: 42 cm
Kjøpt 1998
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Complex object/artwork
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
© Finlay, Ian Hamilton/BONO