Ian Hamilton Finlay
(28 October 1925 – 27 March 2006)
Ian Hamilton Finlay was a poet, an artist and a gardener. His greatest achievement was the creation of Little Sparta, his 'philosopher's garden' in Scotland's Pentland hills, south of Edinburgh. Voted the most important work of Scottish art by fifty artists and art professionals in 2004, Little Sparta was created over many years from 1966 by Hamilton Finlay and Sue Macdonald Lockhart.
Richard Demarco met Sue Lockhart through mutual friends who had set up The Wild Hawthorn Press in 1961. Between 1962 and 1967 Hawthorn Press published Poor. Old. Tired. Horse., the magazine of contemporary and concrete poetry, edited by Hamilton Finlay. It provided Richard Demarco with his first experience of concrete poetry. Sue Lockhart helped Richard present a Traverse Theatre Gallery exhibition of Concrete Poetry in a Bank of Scotland building for the 1964 Edinburgh Festival.
The two lives of Demarco and Finlay have crossed and recrossed in many contexts: The Demarco Gallery held a solo show by Hamilton Finlay in 1969 which led to a collaboration with Maltese artists, producing concrete poetry honouring Malta's heroic role in the Second World War. Stonypath, the original name of Little Sparta, soon became a 'nodal' point for experimental Edinburgh Arts Summer School.
The two artists shared a love of Scottish fishing boats and their harbours, and collaborated on prints and books on the subject. Richard Demarco was invited to work with Finlay to make screen prints such as 'The Little Seamstress' which depicts a small sailing boat on a straight course accross a calm sea.