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.
Join head gardener George Gilliland on our free audio tour of Little Sparta. You can listen at home or you can download and listen when you visit us. From
The Little Sparta Trust is sad to hear of the death on 24th April of Ian Appleton, a formative influence on the history and development of Little Sparta, and
by Magnus Linklater. Many of you have visited Little Sparta and may have donated funds in the past, so I hope you will not mind if I approach you for additional
An almost inner light… Another month dominated by the effects of weather being unseasonably cold and wet for most days, though it ends with a flourish and a sharp rise
Spring cannot be cancelled. The trees begin to blossom just at the end of the month here – so much later than everywhere else it seems, but then also such
New beginnings all round. There is still a sharp coolness to the air as biting winds sweep through, but this is balanced out now by more brighter longer days.