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Art & Photography
Publication Date
13 August 2015
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
Colour throughout

Little Sparta

A Guide to the Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay
by Jessie Sheeler and Robin Gillanders - Find out more about the author

‘The only really original garden made in this country since 1945’ – Sir Roy Strong

‘One of the wonders of twentieth-century art’ – James Campbell, Guardian

'Jessie Sheeler’s new guidebook, illustrated with Robin Gillanders’ atmospheric photographs, does a lucid and erudite job of breaking all this down; an essential companion for anyone planning to visit one of Scotland’s greatest art treasures’ – Roger Cox, Scotsman

‘Of note is the classy design and layout of the entire book. One cannot help thinking that had Hamilton Finlay been here, he would have been very proud of the end result. A book to treasure indeed, and I cannot imagine anyone who sets eyes on it being able to resist a visit to Little Sparta. I certainly can’t.’ – Polly Pullar, Scots Magazine

Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh is widely regarded as one of the most significant gardens in Britain. In addition to being a spectacular example of garden design, it also features almost 300 artworks by Finlay and others which form an integral part of the garden scheme.

This new companion to Little Sparta tells the story of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s extraordinary creation, exploring the underlying themes, and introducing and explaining the significance of the main elements and artworks in each part of the garden. Featuring new photography, as well as archive material, it also shows how the garden has matured and developed over the last 50 years.

Jessie Sheeler was brought up in Edinburgh and read Classics at Edinburgh University. In the early 1960s, working with Ian Hamilton Finlay, she co-founded the Wild Hawthorn Press and its poetry magazine Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.

Robin Gillanders taught Photography at Edinburgh Napier University between 1988 and 2012, and was Reader from 2004. He has exhibited frequently in Scotland and also in France, Spain, Poland, Norway and the USA.


1 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Edith Ryan
Sep 14, 2015
I recently purchased a copy of 'Little Sparta: A Guide to the Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay'. It offers a lot as both a history of the garden and as a visual memory of a delightful visit. It adds substance to Jessie Scheeler's original book. I'm loving it.

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