Art Review: Ian Hamilton Finlay at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh
Exactly 50 years ago, in the autumn of 1966, Ian Hamilton Finlay moved with his wife Sue and their two young children to Stonypath in Lanarkshire. It was a bleak, treeless place, a thousand feet up on the south-western end of the Pentland Hills. Later renamed Little Sparta, over the next 40 years this unpromising spot was to become the internationally celebrated garden that was the artist’s most famous creation. Its fame and the memory of the controversy that surrounded it in the 80s when a dispute with Strathclyde Region developed into a theatrical Battle of Little Sparta have, however, tended to dominate the public profile of the artist-poet to the exclusion of a gentler, more subtle picture. He is in consequence too often remembered as a combative individual whose main creation was the garden that he filled with equally combative imagery of Panzer tanks and battleships.