Discover the story of Derek Jarman’s garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness, in the first exhibition to focus on Jarman’s love of gardening, and the role of the garden in his life and work.
Displaying works of art and film alongside personal artefacts borrowed from inside the cottage, which is not open to the public, ‘My garden’s boundaries are the horizon’ will be a rare opportunity to experience this precious work of art, garden, and life.
The exhibition will display paintings and sculptures from throughout Jarman’s career, on loan from The Keith Collins Will Trust. Gardens and plants spilled into all elements of Jarman’s creative output. When nominated for the Turner Prize in 1986 he described painting as ‘my secret garden… an escape’. His black paintings of the 1980s, covered with tar and found objects from the beach and garden, are an emotive response to his HIV diagnosis; while his colourful landscapes from the early 1990s evoke the joy and beauty experienced in the garden.
Derek Jarman acquired Prospect Cottage, a fisherman’s shack on the shingle at Dungeness, for £32,000, when he came across the building with a ‘For Sale’ sign while filming on the beach with Tilda Swinton. Having been diagnosed with HIV on 22 December 1986, Jarman had resolved ‘to get as much out of life as possible’ and started creating a garden.
The only contemporary garden to be made without a boundary, Jarman’s garden is potent in its environmental context: it stands beside a nuclear power station; the shingles, wind and salt from the sea provide an extreme version of gardening with the ‘right plant for the right place’ philosophy. It evokes resilience and an uplifting sense that if a garden can be made here – that is, on a stony beach, overlooked menacingly by a power station – it can be made on any site, however small and vulnerable.