From previously barren moorland in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Ian Hamilton Finlay has created a unique garden as an encompassing work of art. Little Sparta is a magical combination of culture and horticulture, poetry and planting, philosophy and myth.
Ian Hamilton Finlay began his work at Little Sparta in the mid-1960s. With friends and collaborators, around a group of old farm buildings he has fashioned landscapes, streams, bridges, glades, lanes, bowers and more. Everywhere there are inscriptions and sculptures reflecting the artist’s preoccupations: the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, pre-Socratic philosophy, garden history, World War Two, the sea and fishing fleets, time and mortality.
Ian Hamilton Finlay chooses now not to speak about his work in detail. Made to celebrate the artist’s 80th birthday in 2005, this film offers only a spare narration to complement a lushly visual showcase of the beauties, provocations and puzzles of Little Sparta.