Ian Hamilton Finlay: Little Sparta
November 7, 2005 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Ian Hamilton Finlay is a poet, dramatist and short story writer. However, his greatest work is his garden, Little Sparta, located in the central belt of Scotland and free to visit, it is perhaps Scotland's most impressive piece of public art.
posted by johnny novak (8 comments total)
Good idea for a FPP! I actually visited Little Sparta, or Stoneypath, as part of a writer's workshop in college. It's a wonderful place.

I have some old and badly-scanned pictures of the garden and surrounding area I took with a disposable camera. (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 )

While the focus of Finlay's imagination is a bit unusual, I really think he did a wonderful job of integrating his art humbly into the natural art of the world.
posted by selfnoise at 6:20 AM on November 7, 2005

great stuff selfnoise, I was just looking around for some good photos to follow up with.
posted by johnny novak at 6:23 AM on November 7, 2005

Way to sneak a blank line onto the front page.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:55 AM on November 7, 2005

Oop, you beat me to it Len! I love that little fax (partly because of its tortuous journey: I emailed the questions to his gallery, his assistant printed them out and took them to Little Sparta, he typed his reply and faxed it to the gallery, who scanned it and emailed it to me!)

It's funny - until I had to write about the various retrospectives and the new work at Inverlieth House to mark his 80th birthday at the Edinburgh Art Festival this year, I had no idea he was a sculptor, gardener, etc. but knew his concrete poetry (of which there is plenty at Ubuweb) quite well. I ended up being a bit gutted once I'd done the research and seen more stuff really, as everything since the poetry seems, well, a bit cack in comparison. Though I suppose the garden is concrete poetry of a sort...
posted by jack_mo at 9:05 AM on November 7, 2005

Phew, when I saw IHF as an FPP I feared he had died. IHF FPP RIP if you will.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:19 AM on November 7, 2005

Great stuff, I hadn't come across Finlay before but wil definitely explore his work some more. The garden reminds me of the Forest of Dean sculpture trail on the English-Welsh border, which does something similar in terms of trying to integrate art into nature, and also has that slightly puzzle-like element to it ("ah, now I can see the hidden art/figure out the anagram" etc). If you like Finlay then the website is worth a look, here are some favorites: 1, 2, and 3.
posted by greycap at 11:51 AM on November 7, 2005

Great post. Like jack_mo, I basically only knew his concrete poetry; now I'd really like to visit Little Sparta. I love this bit from the Jacket interview (len's "conversation" link):
The condition of our culture is that it feels separated from the past and, of course, the past now becomes nothing more than two years ago or three years ago. It used to be thousands of years, then it became hundreds, and now anything that is not part of an instant of fashion is considered the past. Within the enclaves of university walls, you’re allowed to take about the past, but only of course in an academic manner. It is not allowed to be treated as ‘real’ or anything like that. Outside the university walls, you’re not allowed even to talk about it. To read Greek philosophy is suspect, and ‘elitist’. There used to be no such word, they had the word ‘educated’ instead. But now you’re not educated, you’re an elitist, and wicked.
Give 'em hell, Ian!

Here's a little poem inscribed on a rock set into the earth:

posted by languagehat at 12:32 PM on November 7, 2005

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