Artists Launch Campaign To Save Derek Jarman’s Seaside Home

Derek Jarman at Prospect Cottage. Photo: © Howard Sooley

The Art Fund is trying to raise £3.5m by 31 March 2020 to purchase Prospect Cottage the much-loved beachside home and garden of the artist/film director Derek Jarman.

After Jarman purchased the Cottage in 1986, it quickly became a source of inspiration and a creative hub where his parallel artistic practices and collaborators came together. Today it represents the complete distillation of his pioneering creativity across film, Art, writing and gardening: from his 1990 film The Garden starring Tilda Swinton to his journal, Modern Nature, and from poetry etched in the glass, to driftwood sculptures and the remarkable garden he created on the shingle beach.

Prospect Cottage and garden is a work of Art as much as a place – Maria Balshaw Tate Director

More than 25 years after his death, Prospect Cottage continues to be a site of pilgrimage for people from all over the world who come to be inspired by its stark beauty and by Jarman’s legacy. The Cottage and its contents are now being sold following the death in 2018 of Keith Collins, Jarman’s close companion in his final years, to whom he bequeathed the Cottage.

Now, leading artists have come together to create limited edition works of art Michael Craig-Martin, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Isaac Julien, Howard Sooley, and Wolfgang Tillmans, ranging from £25 to £1,250.

Through an innovative partnership between Art Fund, Creative Folkestone and Tate, the success of this campaign will 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. Creative Folkestone will become custodians of Prospect Cottage, oversee its long-term care and run these programmes. Jarman’s extraordinary archive from the Cottage, including his sketchbooks and plans for the garden, will be entrusted to Tate and made available for public access at Tate Britain.

Without Art Fund’s appeal, Prospect Cottage is at risk of being sold privately, its contents dispersed, and artistic legacy lost. Deuchar launched the campaign with the support of Tilda Swinton, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Michael Craig-Martin, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Creative Folkestone director Alastair Upton and Tate director Maria Balshaw.

My heartfelt thanks to the National National Art 1 Heritage Memorial Fund, Linbury Trust and my own trustees for leading the way in so supportively committing funds, and to the many artists who are helping us reach a wider public through our crowdfunding initiative. But so far we’re only halfway there, so I call on everyone to donate, large or small, to help us secure, preserve and maintain Prospect Cottage, forever.’

The actor 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.’

Maria Balshaw, Director, Tate, said, ‘Prospect Cottage and garden is a work of Art as much as a place, and it gives us a remarkable insight into Jarman’s life, work and friendships. Bringing some of the most fragile objects into Tate’s archives protects this artistic legacy for future generations and we know they will be of huge interest to researchers and the public. We are also committed to ensuring Jarman’s powerful artistic legacy remains in the extraordinary environment of Dungeness and are delighted to be working with the Art Fund and Creative Folkestone to secure its long-term future.’

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, said ‘The Arts Council welcomes this initiative to ensure the long term preservation and public access to this site. Creative Folkestone, an Arts Council supported organisation with a strong track record in this is area, is ideally placed to become custodians of Jarman’s iconic Cottage. For the first time, members of the public will not only be able to visit but will also be offered the opportunity to look inside the Cottage and artists, creatives and filmmakers- alike will be given a chance to take part in a residency programme. This programme will breathe life into this remarkable building that has become a shrine to so many in the creative community.’

Tacita Dean, artist, said ‘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.’
Isaac Julien, artist and Art Fund trustee, said ‘Derek Jarman was an inspiration for an entire generation. When I curated his solo show Brutal Beauty at the Serpentine Gallery in 2008 and Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe and I created the film, Derek; our aim was to preserve and reintroduce his legacy to a new audience. Prospect Cottage is a work of Art that has become a national treasure. As an artist and Art Fund trustee, I am incredibly excited and moved by the campaign to make Prospect Cottage and its garden Jarman’s most iconic artwork – one to inspire the next generation as he did mine.‘

Artist Jeremy Deller said, ‘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, Prospect Cottage.’
Public appeal Art Fund needs to raise a total of £3.5m by 31 March 2020 to purchase Prospect Cottage and to establish a permanently funded programme to conserve and maintain the building, its contents and its garden for the future. Funds raised to date include significant grants of £750,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £500,000 from Art Fund, £250,000 from the Linbury Trust and several private donations.

Art Fund is calling on the public to donate to the campaign. Leading artists have given rewards for donations to the appeal, as follows: • Jeremy Deller enamel badge of a scallop shell and set of stickers inspired by Jarman’s life for £25. • Howard Sooley set of four Prospect Cottage photographic prints plus a book signed by the artist for £60. • Michael Craig-Martin’s digital print depicting Prospect Cottage for £100. • Wolfgang Tillmans’ limited edition print created in response to Prospect Cottage for £650. • Tacita Dean’s Chalk Fall (limited edition of 35) printed in support of Prospect Cottage for £1,000. • Isaac Julien’s Dungeness (Prospect Cottage) boxed set of ve prints (limited edition of 35) for £1,250.

A vast range of archive material is contained within the Cottage, forming a collection specific to Dungeness with considerable potential to deepen our understanding of the man and his work. At Tate, the Prospect Cottage archive will be kept in optimum conditions and made publicly available for the first time. The material includes Jarman’s notebooks, sketchbooks, letters, drawings and photographs, including the notebook he used when working on his final feature film Blue. Other highlights include the BAFTA he was awarded in 1992 for outstanding British contribution to cinema, his personal SLR and Super 8 cameras, and an address book in which he illustrated each entry with collaged photographs of his friends. The Cottage also contains documents covering Jarman’s personal life, activism, painting and filmmaking, alongside his library of books covering subjects from Victorian Art to medieval alchemy, quantum physics and occult philosophy.

Derek Jarman bought Prospect Cottage while visiting Dungeness, Kent, in 1986. He was at the peak of his creative powers – and it was here where he was to film The Garden, write the book Modern Nature and create a celebrated garden – but was also suffering terribly following his HIV diagnosis and subsequently AIDS-related illness. The cottage quickly became a source of inspiration, a sanctuary, a locus for collaborations with fellow artists, and a creative hub where his artistic practices came together. Prospect Cottage is filled with over 40 works of art by Derek Jarman (and also by friends such as Maggi Hambling, John Maybury, Richard Hamilton and Gus Van Sant) as well as props from films such as Caravaggio and The Tempest. It has been lovingly cared for and preserved since his death. The garden Derek Jarman created from the shingle beach at Prospect Cottage is internationally renowned. It is a garden without boundaries, planted by him with the help of Howard Sooley and filled with objects and sculptural arrangements crafted from the rocks and driftwood found washed up on the shore.

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