Campaign launched to raise £3.5 million to save Derek Jarman’s house for the queer community

Emma Powys Maurice January 28, 2020
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Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman's former home, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, Kent (Gideon Mendel/Corbis/Getty)

A national art charity has launched a £3.5 million fund to save the house of the late Derek Jarman, a visionary filmmaker, director, artist and gay activist.

Jarman made his break into the film industry as production designer for Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971), and would later become one of the most influential figures in 20th century British culture. His historical film Sebastiane (1976) was one of the first British films to feature positive images of gay sexuality.

During his lifetime he was outspoken about homosexuality, his public fight for gay rights, and his personal struggle with AIDS. He was a leading campaigner against Section 28, which sought to ban the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.

The former Victorian fisherman’s hut where Jarman lived – Prospect Cottage in Kent – was a source of much of his artistic inspiration, and it was here that he write the book Modern Nature and filmed The Garden starring Tilda Swinton.

As he succumbed to his illness the house was a a sanctuary to him as well as a creative hub for his fellow artists to collaborate together. Today, it continues to be a site of pilgrimage for LGBT+ people and artists from all over the world.

When he died of AIDS in 1994 Jarman bequeathed the house to his close friend and companion Keith Collins. Collins himself died in 2018, and the house is due to go on sale on March 31.

The Art Fund is now appealing to the public to raise £3.5 million in order to save Jarman’s former home. It’s hoped the money raised will establish a permanently funded programme to conserve and maintain the building and its contents for the future.

With major grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (£750,000), Art Fund (£500,000), the Linbury Trust (£250,000), and several private donations, the campaign is halfway towards its target.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar told House Beautiful: “Prospect Cottage is a living, breathing work of art, filled with the creative impulse of Derek Jarman at every turn.

“It’s imperative we come together to save the Cottage, its contents and its extraordinary garden as a source of creative inspiration for everyone.”

Click here to help #SaveProspectCottage.



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