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Petition launched to save Derek Jarman’s former home from being sold privately

Jarman transformed the Victorian fisherman’s hut into a sanctuary of art and imagination

By Steve Brown

Words: Steve Brown

A petition has been launched to save Derek Jarman’s former home and garden from being sold privately.

The petition on Art Fund is calling for people to donate money in a bid to protect the visionary British filmmaker, artist and activist’s home, Prospect Cottage, situated on the shore of Dungeness.

According to the petition, Prospect Cottage and its iconic garden stand testament to Jarman’s defiant spirit, and have the ‘potential to inspire artists and visitors long into the future’.

They are looking to raise the £3.5 million needed to secure the future of Prospect Cottage as a centre of creative activity after fear the home could be sold ‘privately, its contents dispersed, and artistic legacy lost’.

On the petition website, petitioners have explained where the needed money will go to and wrote: “With expert care overseen by Creative Folkestone, Kent’s leading arts organisation, the garden will be restored and will continue to evolve as it did during Jarman’s lifetime.

“A residency programme for artists, writers, gardeners, filmmakers, academics, activists and others will engage as many people as possible with Jarman’s life and work, and for the first time, members of the public will be able to apply to visit inside the cottage.

“And Tate will take on permanent loan some of the most important and vulnerable archive material from the cottage, including Jarman’s sketchbooks, letters, drawings and photographs, forming a publicly accessible collection at Tate Britain specific to Dungeness – with huge potential to inspire new research, exhibitions and displays.”

So far, they have raised 45 per cent of their end target and are in desperate need of more donations ahead of the March 31 deadline.

Jarman was an English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener, and author. For a generation he was a hugely influential, high-profile figure at a time when there very few famous out gay men.

His art was an extension of his social and personal life and he used his platform as a campaigner and created a unique body of inspiring work.

He founded the organisation at the London Lesbian and Gay Centre at Cowcross Street, attending meetings and making contributions.

Jarman participated in some of the most best-known protests including the march on Parliament in 1992.

In 1986, he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and discussed his condition in public. In 1994, he died of an Aids-related illness in London, aged 52.

He died the day before a key vote on the age of consent in the House of Commons, which campaigned for an equal age for both gay and straight sex.

The Commons reduced the age to 18 rather than 16. The LGBTQ community had to wait until the year 2000 for full equality in relation to same-sex consent.