Nestled in the countryside surrounding Edinburgh, four beautiful pieces by Ian Hamilton Finlay can be found at Jupiter Artland.
“Andrew Dickson visits Little Sparta, for 40 years the home and studio of Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay, who was also a poet, writer and gardener. Richard Ingleby, co-owner of the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh, takes us on a tour of the garden in the Pentland Hills, which is filled with the artist’s work.”
The following writers have focused on the importance of Finlay’s conception of the garden and the experience a viewer has within Little Sparta.
“At every turn along Little Sparta’s paths or in its woods, language — now plaintively, now aggressively — waylays the visitor. Plaques and tablets, benches, bridges, planters, column bases or capitals, urns and more all carry words or other signage. This language, in relation to the objects upon which it is inscribed and the landscape in which it is positioned, functions in the end metaphorically to conjure up a radical space of the mind beyond sight or touch — a space stretching, in Finlay’s poetics, as far both as the Ocean, in all its possible meanings, and as Classicism’s mythical Golden Age.”
“It’s an unsettling place, both protective and disruptive. One moment you move among the birch-trees where a set of pan pipes, half hidden in leaves, tells you: ‘When the wind blows/ venerate the sound’; the next moment you meet a stone tortoise on whose shell is written ‘panzer leader’… What are people meant to make of all this paradox?”
“Artists have the ability to infuse landscape and gardens with meaning; to engage us more deeply and to question our preconceptions. We are very comfortable with a certain set of expectations when it comes to gardens. One such is the idea of the garden as an escape; that, whether it is from the heat of the day or a family argument, the garden is somewhere to find peace. The artist-poet Ian Hamilton Finlay had no truck with this perception, writing: “Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.””
“It was an important principle of Finlay’s thinking that his garden, one of the wonders of 20th-century art, was not the idyllic creation that some well-intentioned admirers mistook it for. Rather it was, like all gardens, in a permanent state of revolution. Whereas the grove may be cultivated, nature, its governing force, is wild. “Life is full of problems,” Finlay wrote… “Not least the moles, which can RUIN a good garden-poem overnight.” Violent action is required, with hoe, spade, axe – or water pistol – to preserve a state of order.”
Image Credit: Flickr/ergonomilk
During 2013, Ian Hamilton Finlay was exhibited as a part of the touring exhibition series, ARTIST ROOMS, produced in collaboration with Tate and institutions throughout the UK. ARTIST ROOMS, was established in 2008, through the donation of over 1,600 pieces of contemporary art by the collector Antony D’offay. It aims to provide the public with regular and accessible opportunities to view work from important contemporary artists.
Finlay was exhibited at: The Park Gallery, Falkirk
Nature over again after Poussin 1979–1980
The late Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925 -2006) forged a career as one of Scotland’s most successful and distinguished artists. Finlay was born and raised in both Glasgow and the Orkney Islands, but later moved to practice in Edinburgh where he became a founding member of the Concrete Poetry movement.