Artists launch appeal to save Jarman’s garden

The actor Tilda Swinton and artists Michael Craig-Martin, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Isaac Julien and Wolfgang Tillmans have launched a £3.5m appeal to save film-maker Derek Jarman’s famous garden at Dungeness in Kent.

Jarman, who died in 1994 aged 52, bought Prospect Cottage near a power station in 1986 and created the garden in the unpromising shingle terrain around it. The garden became a source oif inspiration for him, and now represents the most complete distillation of his pioneering creativity across film, art, writing and gardening, from his 1990 film The Garden starring Swinton to his journal, Modern Nature, to poetry etched in the window glass. 

“My excitement about this vision for Prospect Cottage” Swinton said “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.”

The appeal, co-ordinated by the Art Fund, Creative Folkestone and Tate, needs to raise the money by March 31 to buy the cottage and grounds and maintain it. Grants have already come from the Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Linbury Trust as well as private donations, which amount to half the target. The appeal is now being extended to the general public.

More than 25 years after Jarman’s death Prospect Cottage is still a site of pilgrimage for people 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. 

“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” said Tate’s director Maria Balshaw. “Bringing some of the most fragile objects into Tate’s archives protects his artistic legacy for the future 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.”

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