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Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage.
Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage.

Crowdfunding Campaign Rescues Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage

The artist-led campaign to save Derek Jarman’s beloved Prospect Cottage has successfully raised its goal of approximately $4.5 million in ten weeks. More than seven thousand crowdfunded donations, as well as funds from preservation organizations and a “substantial personal donation” from David Hockney, have helped secure the future of the artist’s home and garden in Dungeness, a coastal hamlet in Kent, England. The Guardian reports that the property will now be purchased by the Art Fund, and maintained by the arts charity Creative Folkestone as a site for public programming, artist residencies, and tours, while Jarman’s private papers and archives from the cottage will head to Tate Britain.

Friends of the artist, including Michael Craig-Martin, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Tilda Swinton, and Wolfgang Tillmans, as well as organizations such as the Slade School of Art and the Tate, were among those campaigning against the private sale of the pilgrimage site, which many see as a work of Jarman’s art. 

“The house’s walls, tables, and countertops groan with assemblages fashioned from materials gleaned from nearby flotsam,” wrote Douglas Fogle in an Artforum memoir of the cottage in February. “Here reside the traces of an intellect that was confined to neither the dramaturgy of the theater nor the directorial vision of filmmaking. Jarman devoted another room to painting, a parallel interest of his recently explored in these pages. Evidence of this practice can be found all over this room, as if the artist had just put down his palette.”

Jarman, who bought the home in 1986 and died in 1994 from complications related to AIDS, left it in the care of his companion Keith Collins, who maintained and planned for its preservation until his passing in 2018.

Swinton said: “When we first launched this appeal, we were throwing ourselves into the void in the hope and faith that others might feel, as we do, that seeds planted with love make for a resilient and sustaining garden. What could be a clearer indicator of our collective commitment to a rich and inspiring future than this phenomenal response?”

Stephen Deuchar, who is stepping down this week after ten years at the helm of the Art Fund, commented: “Securing the future of Prospect Cottage may seem a minor thing by comparison with the global epidemic crisis which has recently enveloped all our lives. But Derek Jarman’s final years at the cottage were an inspiring example of human optimism, creativity and fortitude battling against the ravages of illness, and in that context the success of this campaign seems all the more apposite and right for its time.”