Actors, artists, and art institutions have united in a bid to save the home of the late visionary British filmmaker and activist Derek Jarman. On Wednesday, the Art Fund, a British fundraising charity for art, launched a public fundraising appeal to raise £3.5 million (about $4.5 million) necessary to purchase the property. The house, known as Prospect Cottage, has faced the possibility of a private sale since the death in 2018 of Jarman’s partner Keith Collins, to whom Jarman bequeathed it.
Jarman bought the property in 1986, having recently been diagnosed with HIV and seeking a refuge from London. Nestled on the stark shores of Dungeness, Kent, in Southeast England, the fisherman’s house became an artistic sanctuary throughout his latter years. “From poetry etched into panes of glass, to Jarman’s driftwood sculptures and the remarkable garden he coaxed from the single, it represents the most complete distillation of his creativity and determination,” reads a statement on the fundraising campaign’s site. The property even served as the backdrop of Jarman’s 1990 film The Garden, starring his muse and close friend Tilda Swinton. The cottage and its iconic garden have been a pilgrimage site for devotees since Jarman’s death in 1994.
Swinton is among the group of artists offering art and collectibles for sale to aid the campaign. Funders will receive awards—ranging in value from $32 to $1,630—including a sticker set designed by Jeremy Deller, a print signed by Wolfgang Tillmans, and tickets to a private screening of The Garden. The campaign has already raised nearly half the goal, thanks in part to donations from the National Heritage Memorial, the Art Fund, and the Linbury Trust.
If the campaign succeeds, Jarman’s archives, including sketchbooks and plans for the grounds, will be displayed at Tate Britain. The charity Creative Folkestone would oversee the cottage’s long-term care, including managing residency programs and guiding free tours of the interior and newly restored gardens.
In a statement, Swinton said, “My excitement about this vision for Prospect Cottage lies in its projected future as an open, inclusive and encouraging machine for the inspiration and practical working lives of those who might come and share in its special qualities, qualities that, as a young artist, I was lucky enough to benefit from alongside Derek and so many of our friends and fellow travelers.”