‘Sharing Little Sparta’ was a Creative Scotland funded project led by the Little Sparta Trust and Andrew Patrizio at the University of Edinburgh. The project aimed to attract new kinds of audiences to the artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay’s (1925 – 2006) garden; Little Sparta. Little Sparta was started by Finlay with his wife Sue on their property in the Pentland Hills in 1966 and exists as his “greatest work of art” made up of over 200 artworks across seven acres of land.
Sharing Little Sparta tackled a major challenge in the continuing legacy of Little Sparta: how to achieve a range of artist and public access to this special artist garden that does not endanger the fabric of the garden itself. The Little Sparta trust commissioned Design Informatics to analyse their current way of targeting new audiences and promoting the garden beyond established audiences. Design Informatics conducted field research and highlighted areas of improvement, one of which was their web presence. Since the garden is only open during the summer months (June–September), the aim was that the website could be used as a better information source throughout the year with more interactive information on the artworks also available to those who for accessibility reasons might not be able to visit the garden itself.
We worked with designer Sigrid Schmeisser (Peak15 Design Studio) on the website and created an interactive map as the focal point. The map features 50 key artworks (photography), an audio tour by the head gardener George Gilland, as well as drone footage (produced by Design Informatics’ student Yuxi Lu). Prospective visitors can therefore explore the garden before and after their visit in a new way. Peak15 designed the website layouts to honour the neoclassical style used in Ian Hamilton Finlay’s own work and previous publications. A high emphasis was placed on creating a digestible editorial style for text-heavier pages. The development of the web design was undertaken by Design Informatics internally and the map developed by Shaun Perry (Inside&Out).