Little Sparta – the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Little Sparta – the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Little Sparta – the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

GoMA’s Learning team made a visit to Little Sparta at the end of June to gain further insight into the work of the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. The new display of his work is now open in Gallery 3: Poet, Artist, Revolutionary.

Little Sparta is situated in the Pentland hills, near Edinburgh and is approximately a 50 minute drive from Glasgow. We were very lucky with the weather on the day of our visit and this allowed us to explore the garden at our leisure taking in the sculptures and breathtaking views.

It was certainly a very relaxing place which allowed a quiet time for contemplation. It brought understanding and clarity to be surrounded by the sculptural, poetic and landscaped elements created by Ian Hamilton Finlay. The garden can be enjoyed alone or in a group. I really enjoyed walking and taking my time to read the inscriptions on the various sculptures, each person visiting will be inspired by something different here. The tranquillity and surrounding views brought to life to poems such as:

little fields long horizons
little fields long for horizons
horizons long for little fields

You could spend a long time here as there is so much to see. It was nice to re-group and to be taken to things that I had missed such as a small, concrete bird’s nest halfway up a tree. I can see why Little Sparta is regarded as Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work as it obviously took a great deal of time, thought and effort to create something of this scale. As it is a garden it is subject to damage due to weather and requires constant care The Little Sparta Trust continues to conserve it for future generations.

The exhibition in Gallery 3: Poet, Artist, Revolutionary is well worth a visit and there is plenty to take in. However, a visit to Little Sparta has deepened my understanding of the themes and vision of the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. I would highly recommend it. For further information please visit: http://www.littlesparta.org.uk/

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