In 1966 Finlay and his wife, Sue, moved to the hillside farm of Stonypath, south-west of Edinburgh, and began to transform the surrounding acres into a unique garden, which he named Little Sparta. He revived the traditional notion of the poet's garden, arranging ponds, trees and vegetation to provide a responsive environment for sundials, inscriptions, columns and garden temples. As the proponent of a rigorous classicism and as the defender of Little Sparta against the intrusions of local bureaucracy, he insisted on the role of the artist as a moralist who comments sharply on cultural affairs. The esteem won by Finlay's artistic stance and style is attested by many important large-scale projects undertaken throughout the world. The ‘Sacred Grove', created between 1980 and 1982 at the heart of the Kröller-Müller Sculpture Park, Otterlo, is one of the most outstanding examples of Finlay's work outside Little Sparta.
Ian Hamilton Finlay (exh. cat., ACGB, 1977)
S. Bann: ‘A Description of Stonypath', J. Gdn Hist., i/2 (1981), pp. 113–44
Y. Abrioux: Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer (Edinburgh, 1985) [illustrated selection of work]
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