Derek Jarman is a visionary British director, painter, gardener, writer and activist. In 1986 Derek Jarman, seriously ill with HIV, purchased a cottage on a whim and moved to the wind-blasted beach at Dungeness; the only place in Britain classified as a desert. It was here that Jarman created Prospect Cottage and cultivated the sculptural garden there, which is now world-famous. It was within these four walls, and within the expansive garden that he created some of his most beloved work. The Garden (1990), starring Tilda Swinton, was filmed here, and his diary entries, later published in the book Modern Nature, document his existence during this period.
When Jarman died in 1994, the cottage was left to his companion Keith Collins, who acted in his films The Garden and Edward II. Collins died of a brain tumour in 2018, and the future of the property were picked up by Art Fund, Tate and Creative Folkestone. The organisations launched a crowdfunding campaign to save the cottage, with Jarman's friends and collaborators, including actress Tilda Swinton, lending their support.
The campaign is aiming to raise £3.5 million by 31 March 2020 to prevent the cottage being sold on the market, and thus its contents dispersed, and Jarman's artistic legacy lost. The money will also be channelled into ensuring Prospect Cottage will continue to be a place of creativity for years to come, starting with restoring the garden, and funding a residency programme for artists, writers, gardeners, filmmakers, academics, activists and more.
Creative Folkestone are also planning to use the money to allow members of the public to visit inside the cottage for the first time, and also support permanent loan of some of Jarman's most vulnerable archive material to Tate Britain.
A host of other leading artists have come together to create a series of incentives to donate. The donation point begins from £5, yet if you donate £100, you receive an A4 print of the cottage from Michael Craig-Martin. Wolfgang Tillmans has offered a signed print of an agave plant incorporating an extract of the John Donne poem on the cottage wall in exchange of a donation of £650. If you donate £3,000, you get a private tour of gardener Dan Pearson’s own garden in Somerset.
Tilda Swinton 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.'
So far the campaign has raised 52% of the required amount. Please, for the love of art, donate here.