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.
Teaching an intensive, letter carving in wood course at Little Sparta on a late October weekend was a rather special and enjoyable experience. The first day was sunny and bright,
Moths at Little Sparta From any hill top in South Lanarkshire, such as Tinto the distant vista of rolling hills and valleys is a charming sight especially on a day
Exhibition of Paintings by Francis Hamel A forthcoming exhibition in London is featuring paintings of the garden at Little Sparta. The artist Francis Hamel spent a few days at Little Sparta
Change in Seasons… The skies grey, the leaves golden. There are stormy days but no substantial damage though at times it really does feel like we are in the
Change in Seasons… The change in seasons, week by week, the strange lurches from hot bright days of Indian summer to misty mornings, heavy downpours and then blustery winds
Autumn in August… At the height of the season it seems a never ending sequence of tasks to keep on top of everything. By the Virgil cobble circle groves the