Eric Peter Torbett Finlay was born on December the 11th 1930 in Abadan in Persia where his father was working as an oil engineer. These were the early days when they discovered oil in the Middle East. He and the family returned to Dundee when he was five years old and this is where he spent the rest of his childhood. He had a younger brother, James Finlay who was born on the return to Scotland.
Eric did National Service with The Royal Engineers, training as a draughtsman in Gibraltar for two years and then doing two years with The Light House Service working on Beachy Head as a young assistant. James signed up for the Royal Navy and worked as an Aircraft Engineer, gaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Eric spent the next years between 1953 and 1957 at The Slade School of Art, University College, London, where he gained an M.A. in Fine Art and gained his first teaching experience.
He obtained a Boise Scholarship and studied at Hochschule fur Bildende in Kunst, Berlin. Eric returned to England and married Anne Baylis who gave him two children, Christopher and Caroline.
He next worked at the Slade School of Art teaching in the Graphic Department from 1958 to 1959. In 1959 he started teaching at Chelsea School of Art in London where he mostly taught lithography.
His first exhibition was at the Parsons Gallery in London in 1956 and was entitled “Aspects of British Art”.
Eric next showed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1957 in a group show entitled “Five Young Painters”.
In 1957 he also showed with the Contemporary British Printmakers at St Georges Gallery.
In 1958 he showed at the International Triennial of Graphics in Grenchen.
In 1959 Eric showed at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in “The Graven Image” and at the Premiere Biennial in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
In 1960 he showed in “Micrographia” at the Institute of Modern Art in Paris. Eric spent two summers working in Porthleven, Cornwall, England where he showed at the Newlyn Gallery.
He showed at the International Graphics Biennial at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in 1963 and at the International Triennial at the Museum of Modern Art in Lubjiana, Slovenia, in 1964.
He showed in two Printmakers Council Exhibitions at the Edinburgh Festival in 1966 and the Grabowski Gallery in 1966. A show of paintings was held at the RBS Gallery in London in 1967 entitled “Free Space”. Many of these paintings are shown in the photographs of a recent show at the Stanley Halls in South Norwood, London, held in the summer of 2018.
A show of monotype fine prints was held in the foyer of the National Film Theatre in London entitled “Seven Samurai” celebrating the work of Akira Kurosawa. With his best friend Brian Elliott, who met Eric at the Slade School of Art where they were both Fine Art students, he showed the First British Mail Art Show at the Old Chapel Gallery in Witney, Oxfordshire, England in 1976. This show was a collaboration of “sent letters” between an international group of Modern Artists including Eric and Brian who regularly contributed to the group dynamic. Other group members included Dr Al Akermann, Susan Ayers, Marc Bloch, Buzz Blurr, Vittore Baroni, Cavallini, Buster Cleveland, David Cole, Ryoshuke Cohen, Mike Elliott (Brian Elliott’s brother), John G. Evans, John P. Jacob, Ron King, Peter Meyer, Jurgen Olbrich, John Held Jr, Sarah Jackson, Carlo Pittorre, Bern Porter, Lon Spiegelman, Steve Random, Bill Ray, and Bernard de Vallance amongst many others.
In 1979 Eric had a solo exhibition of Gravure Monotypes entitled “Above The Dark Circus”. This was held at Minsky’s Gallery of 81, Regent’s Park Road, NW1.
A second Mail Art Show was held at the Old Chapel Gallery in Oxfordshire in 1982 entitled “Outside the Outsider”. The Museum of Instant Images in Tilberg in the Netherlands held a mail art show entitled School Days in Artlife in 1990. This was at R.S.G. Koning Willem 11 where Van Gogh went to school and to which Eric was asked to submit. Eric sold various works to Public and Private Collections. The Public Collections are as follows:
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom.
South London Art Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, US.
British Council, London, United Kingdom.
University College London, United Kingdom.
Daedalus Committee, US.
University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.
The Library, Tate Gallery, Millbank, London, United Kingdom.
Catatlogue of "Outside the Outsider".