Pin It
Save Derek Jarman’s house 9
Derek Jarman at Prospect CottageCourtesy Art Fund, © Howard Sooley

Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Deller and more sell art to save Derek Jarman’s house

Artists have contributed limited-edition pieces as rewards for those who donate to stop the late filmmaker’s cottage in Kent being sold privately

Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Deller, Wolfgang Tillmans, and more have launched a public appeal to save the late British filmmaker, artist, and activist Derek Jarman’s iconic house in Kent.

A fundraiser by the charity Art Fund asks supporters to “protect Derek Jarman’s legacy, and inspire creativity in generations to come” by raising £3.5 million to stop the filmmaker’s home from being sold privately.

Depending on the size of their donation, funders can select one of several ‘reward’ options, including 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.

In a press release, Swinton – who starred in a number of Jarman’s films – 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 that, as a young artist, I was lucky enough to benefit from.”

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.”

Jarman bought his Dungeness home and garden, called Prospect Cottage, in 1986 – the same year he was diagnosed as HIV-positive, becoming one of the first public figures to openly declare his disease – with the spot since becoming a shrine for his fans.

As the fundraiser says, Jarman “transformed a Victorian fisherman’s hut into a sanctuary of art and imagination”. It continues: “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.”

“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.”

Following the death of Jarman’s partner Keith Collins– who was given the house after the filmmaker died in 1994 – Prospect Cottage and its contents were put on the market in 2018. Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said that Collins asked trustees to “put Prospect in safe hands”, and that hitting the £3.5 million target would enable the preservation of the building and ensure fans could still visit the garden for free.

The fundraiser also reveals plans for a residency programme for artists, writers, gardeners, filmmakers, academics, and activists, help from the Kent-based arts organisation Creative Folkestone to restore the garden, and an application scheme to enable the public to visit inside the cottage for the first time. 

The Tate will launch a new Dungeness-focussed collection featuring some of Prospect Cottage’s contents, including Jarman’s sketchbooks, letters, drawings, and photographs. The gallery’s director, Maria Balshaw, said in a press release: “Bringing some of the most fragile objects into Tate’s archives protects his artistic legacy for the future.”

The rewards start from £5, but supporters can make a donation of any size. Find out how to donate here.