Born in 1925 in Nassau, Bahamas, he spent his childhood in Scotland, where his family originated. He lived and worked in Stonypath, near Edinburgh, in a place he called Little Sparta, which he transformed into his Gesamtkunstwerk or total artwork. The open-air space combines both forest and garden, with architectural and textual interventions that bring together, like the rest of his works, poetry, ideas, history, gardening, landscaping and sculpture. In addition to poetic work published largely by his own publishing house, Wild Hawthorn Press, founded in 1967, Hamilton Finlay created a body of work that ranges from landscape design to gardens, postcards, prints of all kinds, stone inscriptions, wooden sculptures and installations. His graphic work, which plays with language and visual poetry, shows a clear affinity with classicism. Hamilton Finlay has printed his texts on all types of media and in all formats, from stone stelae to pyramids, ceramic jugs and fabrics. He died in Scotland in 2006.
His first solo exhibition in Spain was held at the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, in 1999. He has presented his works in galleries and in venues such as St Paul’s Cathedral, London (2016); deCordova Sculpture Park and Lincoln Museum, Massachusetts (2014); Tate Britain, London (2013); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010); Kunsthalle, Bremen (2008); and Kunstverein, Frankfurt (1991), among many others.