The E-BNR aims to build a comprehensive & unique cross-artform guide to
the British neo-Romantic tradition,
from 1880 to the present day.
While the British Romantics of 1789-1824 have spawned a vast industry of
publishers, conferences & tourism, the later neo-Romantic traditions
remain largely neglected. The E-BNR is aimed at bringing this hidden
tradition to light.
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WHAT IS NEO-ROMANTICISM ?
Neo-Romantic artists have drawn their inspiration
from artists of the age of Romanticism or earlier.
Characteristic themes in their work include a
mystical approach to the British landscape...
ENTRY: Finley, Ian Hamilton.
Ian Hamilton Finlay (b. 1925 - d. 27 March 2006) was a Scottish poet,
writer, artist and gardener.
Finlay schooled in Scotland but, at the age of 13, he was evacuated to the Orkney Islands
for the duration of the war. In 1942 he joined the British Army.
At the end of the war, Finlay worked as a shepherd, before beginning to write short
stories and poems. He published books including The Sea Bed and Other Stories (1958)
and The Dancers Inherit the Party (1960), and some of his work was broadcast by the BBC.
From 1963, Finlay turned to concrete poetry (poetry
in which the layout and typography of the words contributes to its overall effect), and much of
this work was issued through his own Wild Hawthorn Press.
Eventually he began to inscribe his poems into stone, incorporating these sculptures
into the natural environment.
Little Sparta is a garden at Dunsyre in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, created by Ian Hamilton Finlay.
The five-acre Arcadian garden includes concrete poetry in sculptural form, polemic, philosophical
aphorisms, together with conventional sculptures and temple-like buildings as well as mature
plantings. Altogether it includes over 275 artworks by the artist. In December 2004, a
panel of fifty Scottish artists, gallery directors and arts professionals voted Little
Sparta to be: "the nation's greatest work of art". Sir Roy Strong has said of
Little Sparta that it is: "the only really original garden made in this country since 1945".
The garden has survived several attempts by the local authority to destroy it, and
also indifference from the Scottish Arts Council, since being established on its
then desolate site in 1966/1967. Originally called Stonypath, it was re-named
Little Sparta in 1983. Hamilton Finlay lived adjacent to the garden from
its founding in 1966 until his death forty year later, in 2006. There
is now a Little Sparta Trust that plans to preserve the garden for
the nation by raising enough to pay for an ongoing maintenance fund.
Trustees include Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate.
It is possible to visit the garden, on a limited basis, form June
through to September, on Friday and Sunday afternoons only.
In its starkness, ambition and unpromising location, Little Sparta has
been compared to Derek Jarman's garden at Dungeness.
Although often austerely classical in character, the garden nevertheless
attempts to evoke emotion and 'realize history in the landscape', and to that
extent it might be though to be near to the point at which the neo-classical
revival fed into neo-romanticism.
Jesse Sheeler and Andrew Lawson. Little Sparta: The Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay. (2003).
Robin Gillanders. Little Sparta. (1998).