Alec Finlay “The Road North” 2010-2011

Whisky miniatures, poems-labels, rubber stamps, handwriting, pencil drawing

label on sign post and man drinking in nature pencil drawn map


Alec Finlay‘s ‘The Road North’ loosely echoes the seventeenth century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho’s work The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Basho’s work is one of the canonical works of Japanese literature, written as a prose and verse travel diary, in haiku form. It was written on a journey through Japan’s remote north­ eastern region of Tohoku.

Finlay’s work takes Basho’s work as a starting point which he freely adapts, echoing Basho’s thought that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself home”. ‘The Road North’ documents Finlay’s walking journey around Scotland. Each stopping point is marked by the consumption of a miniature bottle of whisky and a short haiku-style poem. The work offers up unexpected comparisons between Scotland and Japan: most obviously, between the urbanized, hard-headed south and a romantic, isolated north. Finlay combines wry wit and wonder in his multifaceted practice where walking and publishing play equally important roles.”