Tombstone in the woods with Fragile inscribed on it

Visitors who walk through the woodland at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s old home, Little Sparta, in Scotland, happen upon a mossy tombstone placed at an angle between the ferns. Like many of Little Sparta’s artworks – paths, blocks, even beehives – it bears an inscription. 

Our first thought is that this is not art, but a grave and we idly wonder who lies beneath. Bending to read the word ‘Fragile’, our expectations are turned on their heads as we realise this inscription celebrates us all. It could be dedicated to any one of us; to any event or disaster; to all of us including the eco-system we are part of; to our verdant, rocky earth.


We don’t like to think about it, let alone do anything about it.

I’m sharing this for Earth Day. To find out more about the organisation’s message and current campaigns, visit their website:

18 Replies to “Fragile”

    1. It was a bit of a shock to read the inscription – strange how just one word in the right place can convey such a big idea.

      1. I agree about the shock. For me it took a moment or two for the whole image and meaning to sink in, and then it was like a thud. Really a brilliant piece of visual art.

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