Bid to save Derek Jarman’s cottage launched

Derek Jarman at Prospect Cottage (Howard Sooley/Art Fund/PA)
Derek Jarman at Prospect Cottage (Howard Sooley/Art Fund/PA)

A campaign has been launched to save a “work of art” from being sold into private hands – Derek Jarman’s cottage.

The late artist, film-maker and activist’s home and garden is located near the nuclear power station in Dungeness, Kent.

A total of £3.5 million must be raised to save Prospect Cottage “for the nation”.

With grants already pledged from the likes of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Linbury Trust, organisers need to find around £1.8 million in just under two months – by March 31.

Tilda Swinton at the launch
Tilda Swinton at the launch (Sherna Noah/PA)

Jarman died in 1994, aged 52, from Aids-related complications.

Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton, who worked with Jarman many times, including in 1986 film Caravaggio, is supporting the campaign.

She said the cottage “was always a living thing” and that Jarman transformed a “modest bungalow” into a “Tardis”.

“Derek memorably said that he would prefer his works after his death to evaporate and disappear,” she said.

“In honour of the supremely contrary nature of my friend, I feel fully confident that he would be extremely enthusiastic about the generosity of this vision for the continuance of the life of his beloved Prospect Cottage”, she added.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said Jarman was one of the most “influential figures in late 20th century British culture”.

He said: “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.”

The building and its contents are being sold following the death of Keith Collins, Jarman’s close companion, to whom the artist bequeathed the Victorian fisherman’s hut-turned-cottage.

Jarman wanted the property, “which has creativity seeping out of its walls”, to eventually go into public ownership, Mr Deuchar said.

The campaign will enable continued free public access to the garden the artist and activist “coaxed from the shingle”, the launch of artist residencies, and guided public visits.

Jarman’s archive from the cottage, including his sketchbooks, will be made available for public access at Tate Britain.

Artists Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Michael Craig-Martin, Wolfgang Tillmans, as well as Creative Folkestone director Alastair Upton and Tate director Maria Balshaw are also supporting the campaign.

Artists have created limited edition works of art as rewards for public donations on Art Fund’s crowdfunding site, ranging in price from £25 to £1,250.

Jarman purchased the cottage in 1986 and it quickly became a source of inspiration.

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