Little Sparta

Little Sparta

Little Sparta. Image by Ergonomik (bit.ly/littlesparta) used under a Creative Commons license

It is twenty years since Ian Hamilton Finlay gifted his extraordinary garden at Stonypath, South Lanarkshire to the Little Sparta Trust, who has continued to make its riches available to visitors and researchers.

This morning, supporters and trustees gathered in the garden to meet Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP and to celebrate both the anniversary and the consolidation of a partnership between the Trust, the University of Edinburgh, and the National Galleries of Scotland which will further help to secure Hamilton Finlay’s legacy for future generations.

We were blessed with fine, late summer morning sunshine and the opportunity to engage with the landscape and with the new study room housing Hamilton Finlay’s books. The space will host seminars or offer sheltered study from the Dunsyre winds when they do blow in from the hills. Edinburgh College of Art is looking forward to launching its new Masters Programme in Cultural Landscapes from September and inhabiting this quiet space.

As electric blue dragonflies skimmed the ponds it was fascinating to consider what Hamilton Finlay would have made of the Edinburgh crowd and the broadcasting crews treading his turf. Little Sparta famously represented his passionate withdrawal from and ongoing riposte to the establishment. But in the rustle of the leaves and via the enduring inscriptions of his works his critical voice still made itself heard.

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