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Little Sparta Exhibition Edinburgh

Remembering Little Sparta : Show at ECA, Edinburgh, Scotland

30 Jun 2009

Little Sparta Exhibition


Sunday 30 July – Sunday 30 August 2009
Sculpture Court, Main Building, Edinburgh College of Art

As part of the its Festival 2009 programme, Edinburgh College of Art is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings, paper reliefs and photographs based on the the 16 year engagement by the artist Janet Boulton with Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta.

Image from the Remembering Little Sparta exhibition:
Little Sparta exhibition
Torso, the Roman Garden Series (Paper relief) © Janet Boulton

An artist of international acclaim, Janet Boulton specialises in watercolour and paper relief works. While she was Artist in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art in 2006-07, she began work on Remembering Little Sparta, a collection of over 120 paintings, paper reliefs and photographs reflecting on her experience of working for such a prolonged period at Finlay’s garden set in the Pentland Hills.

An illustrated catalogue with texts by acknowledged authorities on Ian Hamilton Finlay’s work – Jessie Sheeler, Dr Patrick Eyres and Harry Gilonis – serve as an introduction to the four main categories of Remembering Little Sparta: The Landscape Garden (with a section devoted to the Roman Garden), Interiors (Temple to Apollo and the Boat Window Series), Toys, Models and Maquettes (a little known aspect of Finlay’s prodigious output including works made in the early 1960’s) and finally photographs of the Janet Boulton’s own garden at Abingdon Oxfordshire (demonstrating the influence of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s work in a small urban setting).

In addition to this extensive collection of works by Janet Boulton, Remembering Little Sparta will include an installation of model boats from the collection of Ian Hamilton Finlay, lent by the estate alongside memorabilia documenting Janet’s collaborations with Finlay over the years.

The exhibition, each section being accompanied by explanatory wall texts, dispels the popular myth that the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay is obscure and only for the cogniscenti. It illustrates his love of the ordinary and at the same time shows how he can inspire another artist.

On this, Janet Boulton comments: ‘Studying Ian Hamilton Finlay’s work and meeting many of his circle of friends and collaborators has greatly enriched my life and practise as an artist, not least in widening my understanding of the importance of our classical heritage as a continuing source of renewal and inspiration.’

Remembering Little Sparta is staged as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s Festival programme which also includes Milestone (1- 30 August), a live stone carving event with accompanying exhibition, the Postgraduate Degree Show (15 – 30 August) and a host of theatre and comedy events in the Sweet Fringe Festival programme which uses the College campus as one its venues.

Remembering Little Sparta
30 Jul – 30 Aug Mon-Thu 10am-6pm; Fri-Sun 10am-5pm
Sculpture Court, Main Building, Edinburgh College of Art.
Free admission

All works by Janet Boulton in the exhibition are available for sale. A full price list is available on request.

Janet Boulton is an artist of international acclaim. Specialising in watercolour and paper relief works she has exhibited worldwide. Janet is represented by the Redfern Gallery:

Edinburgh College of Art has an international reputation as one of the most successful independent art colleges in the UK, as well as statistically being one of the most popular. Founded in 1907, but with a history dating back to the 18th century, the College is now home to over 1,700 full-time students studying a range of programmes across art and design, architecture and landscape architecture, and visual communication at undergraduate, postgraduate and research degree level. The College is an accredited institution of the University of Edinburgh. For further information visit

Ian Hamilton Finlay
(28 October 1925 – 27 March 2006)
The art of Ian Hamilton Finlay is unusual for encompassing a variety of different media and discourses. Poetry, philosophy, history, gardening and landscape design are among the genres of expression through which his work moves, and his activities have assumed concrete form in cards, books, prints, inscribed stone or wood sculptures, room installations and fully realised garden environments. For more information about Ian Hamilton Finlay, see the website:

Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta:

Edinburgh College of Art
Edinburgh College of Art
photo © Adrian Welch

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Comments / photos for the Little Sparta Exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art Architecture page welcome

Little Sparta Exhibition Edinburgh : page