£3.5m crowdfunding campaign saves Derek Jarman’s Kent home

A £3.5m fundraising campaign to save for the nation the idyllic home of artist, activist and film maker Derek Jarman has been successful, it has been announced.

The Art Fund said the money had been raised after what was the largest ever arts crowdfunding campaign. As well as big offerings from trusts and foundations and a “substantial personal donation” from David Hockney, there were 7,300 donations from the public including nearly 2,000 in the last week.

Campaigners argued that Prospect Cottage and its internationally recognised garden combined to make a work of art in its own right.

Nestling on a shingle beach in Kent and overlooked by Dungeness nuclear power station, the house remains a place of pilgrimage and inspiration for devotees of one of the most important and influential artists of his generation.

The campaign was launched 10 weeks ago by Jarman’s friend, the actor Tilda Swinton, who was with him when he first saw and fell in love with the house.

She said: “When we first launched this appeal, we were throwing ourselves into the void in the hope and faith that others might feel, as we do, that seeds planted with love make for a resilient and sustaining garden, even one grown amongst stones.

“What could be a clearer indicator of our collective commitment to a rich and inspiring future than this phenomenal response?”

Jarman, the gay rights activist and maker of films such as Sebastiane, Caravaggio and Jubilee, bought the small Victorian former fisherman’s cottage in 1986, the year of his HIV diagnosis.

He lived there until his death in 1994. After that it was carefully looked after by his long-time companion Keith Collins, who died in 2018.


From right: Tilda Swinton, Sandy Powell, Simon Fisher Turner and Seamus McGarvey attend a screening of Derek Jarman’s The Garden earlier this month to raise awareness of the campaign to save Prospect Cottage

From right: Tilda Swinton, Sandy Powell, Simon Fisher Turner and Seamus McGarvey attend a screening of Derek Jarman’s The Garden earlier this month to raise awareness of the campaign to save Prospect Cottage. Photograph: Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images

The artist Tacita Dean, a friend of Collins who enlisted the help of the Art Fund to save the cottage, said: “I cannot express how delighted and moved I am that so many people have come together to protect this very special place.”

She said Collins “laid the way for this to happen enabling us all to keep Prospect Cottage as a beacon of hope in the resilience and redemption of the creative process in times of adversity. As it was for Derek, it is for us now. Thanks Keith and thank you to everyone who has made this possible.”

The campaign’s success means the Art Fund can purchase the cottage, conserve and maintain it, and fund a permanent public programme that will include residencies for artists, academics, writers, filmmakers and gardeners. There will also be small “by appointment” tours for members of the public.

One of the most eye-catching elements of the fund raising was the cream “autograph” suit worn by Jarman’s friend Sandy Powell, the costume designer. At the Oscars and Baftas she gathered more than 200 signatures including those of Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Spike Lee, Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger and Laura Dern. It was sold at auction for £16,000.

Stephen Deuchar, who this week steps down after 10 years as director of the Art Fund, said: “Securing the future of Prospect Cottage may seem a minor thing by comparison with the global epidemic crisis which has recently enveloped all our lives.

“But Derek Jarman’s final years at the cottage were an inspiring example of human optimism, creativity and fortitude battling against the ravages of illness, and in that context the success of this campaign seems all the more apposite and right for its time.”

Jarman’s archive from the cottage – notebooks, sketchbooks, letters, drawings and photographs – will be looked after by Tate Britain.

Maria Balshaw, the director of Tate, said: “The success of the campaign to save Prospect Cottage raises our spirits in these difficult times. It is testament to the profound impact of Derek Jarman’s originality, energy and activism and his influence on generations of artists and actors who came after him.”

The Guardian

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