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Derek Jarman's Garden

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  • Derek Jarman’s (1942-1994) public image is that of a filmmaker, who dwelled on themes of sexuality  and violence. He was best known for his films Sebastiane, Jubilee and Caravaggio. He was outspoken about homosexuality and his never ending public fight for gay rights, most notably he was a leading campaigner against Clause 28 in the UK. He also broke new ground in creating and expanding the fledgling form of ‘pop video’.

    In 1986 Jarman was diagnosed as HIV positive, and was one of a handful of public figures who discussed HIV publically at that time. By the time of his 1993 film ‘Blue’, in which Jarman describes his life and vision, he was losing his sight and dying of AIDS related complications.

    He was in fact, a very private man, and chose to live out the remainder of his life at a tiny fishermans cottage called ‘Prospect Cottage’ in Kent, on the south coast of England. The solitude and silence attracted him to what was in all reality one of the most harsh and barren landscapes possible ....within a stones throw of Dungeness nuclear power station.


    Out of this desolate expanse grew Derek Jarmans Garden. His book, of the same name, is his own record of how the garden evolved from its earliest beginnings to the last year of his life. The images featured on todays blog are from this book. Photographs taken by Howard Sooley.

    Whilst living in London in 1998, I took a day trip down to visit the garden, and it remains, to this day, one of my favourite gardens. It inspired me to make a very special reclaimed garden on the banks of the holy river, the Ganga, in Rishikesh, in the Himalayas, India whilst living there in 2000 and continues to inspire me to this day.

    Derek Jarmans garden lives on, and I urge you to visit it if you ever have the chance.


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    References: Derrick Jarman's Garden - published by Thames and Hudson