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Ian Hamilton Finlay Beehives

Ian Hamilton Finlay: Beehives 2009

‘BEES; they lightly skim; and gently sip; the dimply river’s brim; BOATS’

The beehives were created in response to the pastoral atmosphere of Jupiter Artland’s landscape, in particular the woodland and wildflower meadow next to the avenue.

Reminiscent of the hives at Little Sparta, these five traditional WBC beehives at Jupiter soften the chestnut avenue and underline the interaction of nature. The hives which bear an inscription by Ian are a gentle counterpoint to the man-made and genetically modified ‘Love Bomb’ by Marc Quinn on the skyline.


Ian Hamilton Finlay was an artist, poet, philosopher, gardener and landscape designer. He was born in 1925 in the Bahamas. He was sent to boarding school in Scotland and continued to live there for the rest of his life. He left school at the age of 13 and had a wide variety of jobs from roadman to fisherman to soldier to farm labourer all of which had an influence on his later work.

The intermediary stage in his development from writer to artist was his “concrete poetry” which demonstrated a “formalist purity with a polemical edge”. Much of his work was published through the Wild Hawthorn Press which he co-founded in 1961. Poetry is at the heart of all of Finlay’s work and a further expression of this was the creation of Little Sparta, his garden near Edinburgh. The garden is on a windswept hill and blends classical sculpture with his unique use of language. At every turn, plaques, walls, statues, bridges and paving stones carry poetic and philosophical inscriptions reflecting the enduring themes of Finlay’s art: the 2nd World War, the French Revolution and the Sea. Finlay died in March 2006.