Set in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. Finlay moved to the farm of Stonypath in 1966 and, in partnership with his wife Sue Finlay, began to create what would become an internationally acclaimed garden across seven acres of a wild and exposed moorland site.
Collaborating with stone carvers, letterers and at times other artists and poets, the numerous sculptures and artworks created by Finlay, which are all integral to the garden, explore themes as diverse as the sea and its fishing fleets, our relationship to nature, classical antiquity, the French Revolution and the Second World War. Individual poetic and sculptural elements, in wood, stone and metal, are sited in relation to carefully structured landscaping and planting. In this way, the garden in its entirety is the artwork.
Ian Hamilton Finlay & His Work
Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925 – 2006) was a poet, writer, visual artist and gardener. He is now internationally recognised for his work in each of these art forms.
Finlay was born in Nassau, the Bahamas, in 1925. Finlay’s father bootlegged alcohol from Nassau into the USA until the repeal of prohibition laws in 1933, when he and Finlay’s mother unsuccessfully attempted to start an orange-growing business in Florida, before returning to Scotland in straitened circumstances. Finlay himself had been sent to Scotland at the age of six, boarding first at Larchfield School near Helensburgh, then Dollar Academy.
It is so sad that Ralph Irving passed away in March this year after a long illness. He was too young to go and will be much missed by
BioBlitz: Discovering the wild side of Little Sparta Book Now What’s out there? Have you wondered what other lifeforms we share a place with? This simple question is surprisingly difficult
Repairs to Goose Hut, 2021. Based on Laugier’s notion of the Primitive Hut described in his Essay on Architecture of 1755, the goose hut looks back to the origins of
Plum and cherry blossom, the freshness of new growth, daffodils still blooming away, much later here than everywhere else it seems, in golden swathes across the hillside by the back
Take a breath… A month of preparations with the promise of spring – and as it nears its end we are blessed with a long spell of warm weather, clear
Very present weather… Yet another month of very indecisive but very present weather. As elsewhere, more named storms rip through, but we do not sustain much notable damage – the