Friday, August 11, 2006

Little Sparta

Several weeks ago, I finally managed to visit Little Sparta, the late Ian Hamilton Finlay's garden. Finlay was a man of unique vision and creativity. With his collaborators, he transformed the bare land of Stoneypath farm into a poet-artist's garden, in which everything--the land, the buildings, the plants, the installations--is shaped according to a coherent overall vision. Although it contains numerous individual pieces of art, the garden as a whole constitutes a single artwork of tremendous invention and beauty. It is the most fully realised aesthetic I've ever encountered.
There's an interesting and informative interview with Finlay in issue 15 of the e-zine Jacket. I'm still pondering what exactly his use of "piety" means, and I haven't yet got round to reading the accompanying articles.
Ian Hamilton Finlay's son, Alec, works in a similar but equally distinctive vein. You can read his eulogy for his father here.

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