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Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage © Howard Sooley

Prospect beautiful – Derek Jarman’s cottage

Happy news, A. Vasudevan writes. After a period of great uncertainty about its future, Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman’s Dungeness home, has been saved, following the Art Fund’s £3.5 million fundraising campaign.

A former fisherman’s hut, Prospect Cottage was purchased by visionary Jarman in 1986, the same year in which he was diagnosed as HIV positive. It quickly became both a place of sanctuary and a creative hub for the artist–filmmaker and his friends. Its stark gardens, imaginatively landscaped over the years by Jarman and friend Howard Sooley, drew visitors from all over the world.

Jarman, one of the most influential British cultural figures of the twentieth century, died in 1994, leaving the cottage to long-time partner Keith Collins. Following Collins’ death in 2018, the cottage was in danger of falling into private hands. The Art Fund campaign, launched on 22 January 2020 to raise the funds necessary by the end of March, has raised over £3.6 million, enabling Jarman’s bolthole to remain in public hands. According to the Art Fund, it’s the largest ever arts-based crowdfunding campaign.

The funds raised include over 8,000 public donations from 40 countries worldwide, some 2,000 of them coming in the last week of March alone, despite the COVID-19 crisis. They supplement considerable public and private donations – such as from artist David Hockney – and major grants by such organisations as the Art Fund, which donated £500,000, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Linbury Trust, which gave £750,000 and £250,000, respectively.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar says that while the securing of the cottage may seem minor in comparison to our current global epidemic crisis, ‘Derek Jarman’s final years at the cottage were an inspiring example of human optimism, creativity and fortitude battling against the ravages of illness … in that context the success of this campaign seems all the more apposite and right for its time.’

Arts organisation Creative Folkestone will look after Prospect Cottage and its environs, running a permanent public programme and conserving the building and gardens for generations to come.

See also: Derek Jarman in all his glory

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Posted 13:01 Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020 In: Arts News

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