Ian Hamilton Finlay was a Scottish artist and writer. Trained at Glasgow School of Art, following the war, he spent a period working as a shepherd and started to write poems. With time, he began to compose poetry and inscribe them into stone; the resulting sculptures are often incorporated into the natural environment. Many of them are situated within Little Sparta, his master-work, a five-acre garden he developed with his wife, near the Pentland Hills outside of Edinburgh. Gardening and art happily cohabit here, and the expanse of land is full of his sculptural work. In 2004, Little Sparta was voted most important Scottish work of art, by a panel of artists and arts professionals, ahead of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art and Henry Raeburn’s The Skating Minister.
Finlay was prolific, endlessly creative and collaborative. Printmaking was a large part of his artistic practice, often made in collaboration with other artists, writers and technicians and involving both text and visual elements. Finlay was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1985.