Archive for ian hamilton finlay

The garden of Little Sparta has been described as “the epicentre of [Finlay’s] cultural production,” from which his other works in a sense emanate. With its far-ranging allusions to pre-Socratic philosophy and Ovidian metamorphoses, to the art of Poussin and poetry of Vaughan, to the imagery adopted by the shapers of Revolutionary France, to WWII sea battles and contemporary Scottish fishing craft, Little Sparta itself stands as a single grand metaphor for no less than Western Culture.

It, like Finlay’s other works, both chronicles and re-enacts the complex, contradictory relation between Culture and Nature, between the cultivated and the wild (for Nature only becomes intelligible to us when ordered through cultural constructs that necessarily belie Nature’s essential, untamed “naturalness”). To re-invoke Nature and its real raw power – and to re-establish poetry’s and art’s relevance in the world – Little Sparta has been made rife with images not only of invincible Antique gods but also of deadly modern warships, our nearest symbols of sublimity and terror.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment