Art Fund launches crowdfunding campaign to save Derek Jarman’s Dungeness home

Artists Jeremy Deller, Wolfgang Tillmans and Tacita Dean back appeal to purchase the former home of one of the UK’s most influential filmmakers.

Date
24 January 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Art Fund has announced a public appeal to raise £3.5 million to preserve filmmaker Derek Jarman’s seaside home and garden in Dungeness, Kent. Run by Art Fund, Creative Folkestone and the Tate, the initiative aims to purchase Prospect Cottage, where Jarman lived before he passed away in 1994, and to fund a permanent conservation and maintenance programme for the seaside site.

While best known for his experimental and visually stunning films, Jarman was a prolific creative, comfortably moving between stage and costume design, writing, poetry, painting, sculpture and creating his unique garden. He was also an outspoken gay rights and AIDs activist, with many of his works celebrating LGBTQ+ themes. He collaborated with numerous household names, including actors Tilda Swinton and Judi Dench and musicians Brian Eno, Throbbing Gristle and Pet Shop Boys, even directing their 1989 tour History.

Jarman bought Prospect Cottage in 1986, shortly after he was diagnosed as HIV positive. Located on the shingle shoreline of Kent (the UK’s only desert), the small house sits among abandoned boats and fisherman huts in the eerie shadow of Dungeness’ power station. It was a significant inspiration for his film The Garden and a moving account of his experience living there while battling AIDs was recorded in his journal Modern Nature. After Jarman passed away, the house was bequeathed to his companion Keith Collins but is now to be sold following Collins’ death in 2018. The fear is that if the house is bought by a private owner, its contents may be dispersed or the building significantly changed.

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Inside Prospect Cottage, copyright Howard Sooley

Numerous artists and celebrities have backed the campaign, creating artworks that supporters can snap up as rewards for their donations. Artist Jeremy Deller has created a shell-inspired pin badge and set of stickers inspired by Jarman and his films (including 1978 punk smash hit Jubilee), while Wolfgang Tillmans, Isaac Julien and Michael Craig-Martin have each created limited-edition prints responding to the cottage.

Artist Tacita Dean, whose limited-edition print Chalk Fall is a possible reward for those donating more than £1000, said in a statement about the proposals: “Prospect Cottage became a place of pilgrimage not by design but rather by the sheer force of what Derek Jarman represented to so many of us. Derek found solace and community in this weatherworn place and harvested its harsh beauty to make his beloved garden and his books, films and paintings. In so doing, he gave us a part of his discovery and infectious spirit of creative adventure, which we now have the opportunity to protect and cherish for future generations.”

Half of the £3.5 minion has already been found by grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, the Linbury Trust and private donations. If successful, the new ownership will also enable free public access to the garden, fund a programme of artists’ residencies and allow guided public visits inside the cottage – something that has not been possible to date. While Creative Folkestone will become custodians of the site itself, some of the more fragile objects from the house (including sketchbooks and plans for the garden) will be preserved in Tate’s permanent collection.

The appeal has a deadline on 31 March. You can donate here.

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Jarman at Prospect Cottage, copyright Howard Sooley

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Inside Prospect Cottage, copyright Howard Sooley

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Inside Prospect Cottage, copyright Howard Sooley

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Prospect Cottage, copyright Howard Sooley

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About the Author

Laura Snoad

Laura is a London-based arts journalist who has been working for It’s Nice That on a freelance basis since 2016.

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