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This tree-shaded corner in the Front Garden has pots of hosta plants set on an irregular grid of paving stones. Amongst them are six stone works on plinths, five of which comprise a Homage to the Villa d'Este, celebrating the 16th Century garden at Tivoli designed by the Mannerist architect Pirro Ligorio. One of the purposes of such gardens was to emphasise the power, wealth and lineage of the owner, and thus among the sculptures at the Villa d'Este are warships, a motif derived from gardens of ancient Rome, which function as fountains in an elaborately impressive scheme of water features.

In Little Sparta's Roman Garden there are variations on the theme of warships and their modern airborne equivalents. All the works are miniaturised in deliberate contrast to the Tivoli garden, yet they are all set on plinths to emphasise their status as monuments. All are simplified or semi-abstract in style, inviting speculation about the ideas they represent. Two of them have functions of a more kindly, even domestic nature than those at the Villa d'Este.

 

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Photographs by Andrew Lawson except where noted