Under threat of private acquisition, longtime friend Tilda Swinton joins Jeremy Deller, Wolfgang Tillmans and others to raise money to save the artistic landmark
“Paradise haunts gardens, and some gardens are paradises,” once said Derek Jarman. “Mine is one of them.” Nestled in the sparse coastal landscape of Dungeness, Kent, stands Prospect Cottage, the home of late British filmmaker, artist and activist, Derek Jarman, who moved to the property the same year he was diagnosed with HIV. In the years since his death, the site has become a site of pilgrimage for fans of Jarman, as well as an artistic sanctuary where the memory of his life and work live on. “From poetry etched into panes of glass, to Jarman’s driftwood sculptures and the remarkable garden he coaxed from the single, it represents the most complete distillation of his creativity and determination,” read a statement released this morning from a fundraiser launched by the charity Art Fund, as Prospect Cottage comes under threat of private acquisition.
The fundraiser has called out for support, aiming to raise £3.5 million to save the artist’s cottage, in an effort to “protect Derek Jarman’s legacy, and inspire creativity in generations to come.” In aid of the fund, Jeremy Deller, Wolfgang Tillmans and former AnOther cover star Tilda Swinton have launched a public appeal to save the house, offering up their art for sale. Depending on the sum donated, funders can in return select items such as a pin badge and sticker set designed by Deller, a Wolfgang Tillmans signed print, tickets to a private screening of Jarman’s 1990 film The Garden, and more by Tacita Dean, Michael Craig-Martin, Isaac Julien, and Howard Sooley. With the funds raised, the campaign aims to “enable continued free public access to the cottage’s internationally celebrated garden, the launch of artist residencies, and guided public visits within the cottage itself,” while various Jarman artefacts, including sketchbooks and plans for the garden, “will be entrusted to Tate and made available for public access at Tate Britain.”
In a statement released this morning, Tilda Swinton said, “My excitement about this vision for Prospect Cottage lies in its projected future as an open, inclusive and encouraging machine for the inspiration and practical working lives of those who might come and share in its special qualities, qualities that, as a young artist, I was lucky enough to benefit from alongside Derek and so many of our friends and fellow travellers.” Jeremy Deller added, “Derek Jarman was an inspirational provocateur in the cultural life of Britain, and a great role model for any artist looking to cause a bit of trouble. I’m happy to now be working with other artists to give people a chance to own a work of art in return for a donation to help save this special place.”
Last year, to coincide with the opening of the Derek Jarman retrospective at Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art and the 25th anniversary of Jarman’s death, we asked five luminaries – John Waters, Tilda Swinton, Luca Guadagnino, Olivia Laing and Sandy Powell – to recommend an excerpt from his writing, in a piece that was published in AnOther Magazine A/W19. “Revisiting his work in newly turbulent times, it’s hard not to feel how deeply his voice of creativity and dissent is missing from the fray,” wrote Hannah Lack. Read the beautiful excerpts here, and find out more about donating to the fund here.