Sunday, 16 October 2016


at Little Sparta, September, photograph by Iain Morrison

"I imagine the sheepfold as standing in the meadow grass,
but it might be necessary to add a slab or slabs at the gate,
and even forming a sort of path near the wall, inside. (On
a wet day it does not take long for the grass to be tramped
into mud.) These slabs could be of selected, very flat 'wild'
stones, or possibly riven slate, like the stones which bear
the lettering. If there is a slab or slabs at the gate, we might
use others to form a sort of pastoral approach-path. (Anything
which dovetails in an added artifact is helpful. Nothing looks
worse than an added object abandoned in isolation in a natural
setting. Trees or bushes judiciously placed could be beautiful too."

Ian Hamilton Finlay to Thomas A Clark, January 1998

In 1973, I made a small card placed in an envelope, with
the words "folding the last sheep", the title of an etching
by Samuel Palmer. When the card was taken out of its
envelope and unfolded, it could stand up in the shape of
a sheep fold. It was intended as a modest elegy for the whole
pastoral tradition.

Ian liked the card and pasted it into his scrapbook (the
ultimate sign of approval) and 25 years later had the idea
to actually build the sheepfold, for a garden festival in Germany
and for Little Sparta. It seems the slabs were not necessary !

With thanks to Sharing Little Sparta Residency Programme
2016. This year's residents were Sarah Rose, Peter Manson
and Thomas A Clark