Tuesday, 4 September 2012
what a surprise today to see a video piece on little sparta in the guardian. the video itself is reasonably terrible but at leads you do get to see a bit of the garden. follow the link on the page to the little sparta trust site for more.
i've been going to little sparta on and off since i was in my twenties having first heard about it away back when, when ian hamilton finlay was having his problems with the council and, if memory serves, the locals. since then, of all the people i've taken there i'm not sure any has been back, at leads not without me. maybe it's because it's so out of the way (and they didn't have me to drive) and maybe, latterly, it's because it takes a bit of organisation via the trust even to get there.
which is kind of okay with me. while i'd like hamilton finlay to be much more recognised there's no change little sparta itself could stand much on the way of people going to it. that said, if you're ever going to visit only one garden in scotland it's this one. around the time hamilton finlay died i wrote to alex salmond espousing the view that, as a nationalist he must make sure little sparta was preserved for the nation. thus far it hasn't and fat eck never replied (no golf or hollywood interest here presumably). the trust tho, seem t be doing the business and hamilton fin lay remains both a part and apart. i think he would;t have minded that.
i never met him but i did see him while visiting once, sitting in how own wee world on his veranda. he was obviously not well (at least to my eyes) but at the same time he seemed quite at peace there in his green. it's the way i'll always remember him. not easy to get into, not so easy to dismiss, ian hamilton finlay, for me (and far more than most of that younger glasgow lot that came after him, i say) is possibly the most significant scottish artist in the latter part of the last century. little sparta is a both a living work and a wonderful epitaph.