A $4 million crowdfunding campaign just saved Derek Jarman's home from private sale

Updated 1st April 2020
A $4 million crowdfunding campaign just saved Derek Jarman's home from private sale
Written by Jacopo Prisco, CNNLondon, UK
Contributors Ananda Pellerin, CNN
The Art Fund has wrapped up a hugely successful drive to save Prospect Cottage, the former home of visionary British filmmaker and activist Derek Jarman, from private sale.
In what it called "the largest ever arts crowdfunding initiative" in a press release, the UK-based charity said that it reached its $4 million (£3.5 million) goal in just over two months, after over 8,000 public donations came through from over 40 countries, along with grants from organizations.
Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said in a statement that they are "deeply grateful to no fewer than 8,119 individuals and institutions who made donations large and small, and to the artists -- led by Tacita Dean and Tilda Swinton -- whose material support for the crowdfunding and publicity initiatives was so influential."
Jarman bought the black fisherman's cottage in 1986 and created in front of it a famous garden inspired by the surrounding coastal landscape of Dungeness, in the southeast of England, also the site of two nuclear power stations. It subsequently played a key role in Jarman's 1990 film "The Garden," set against the backdrop of his home and starring Tilda Swinton.
Swinton, who was the influential director's muse, is part of a group of artists who supported the campaign, which launched on 22 January of this year, by giving their works and time in exchange for donations. Other artists involved included Peter Doig, Michael Craig-Martin, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Isaac Julien, Howard Sooley and Wolfgang Tillmans. David Hockney made a "substantial personal donation," the Art Fund release said.
Hollywood also lent a hand, with renowned costume designer Sandy Powell gathering the signatures of over 200 stars -- including Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Saoirse Ronan -- on a suit she had worn to the Critics' Circle gala this year, which then sold at auction raising $20k (£16k) for the cause.
"Securing the future of Prospect Cottage may seem a minor thing by comparison A $4 million crowdfunding campaign just saved Derek Jarman's home from private saleA $4 million crowdfunding campaign just saved Derek Jarman's home from private salewith 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," Deuchar said of the filmmaker, who died from an AIDS-related illness. "This campaign seems all the more apposite and right for its time."
Derek Jarman in his garden.

Potential loss to art world

The cottage was facing the prospect of a private sale, following the 2018 death of Keith Collins, Jarman's close companion in his final years, to whom he bequeathed the property. The Art Fund believed this would result in the loss of its contents -- Jarman's vast archive -- and its artistic legacy.
After Jarman purchased the cottage he turned it into a creative hub for himself and his collaborators.
"Prospect cottage quickly became a source of both solace and intense inspiration, a kind of sanctuary but also a place of high sociability for friends and collaborators. More than 25 years later the garden survives, and the cottage is still filled with works of art by Jarman and his friends and admirers, including Maggi Hambling, John Maybury, Gus van Sant, Richard Hamilton and others," Deuchar said at the campaign launch earlier this year in London.
Tilda Swinton launched the campaign in London.
Tilda Swinton launched the campaign in London.
Tilda Swinton remembered the moment she and Jarman fist saw the cottage.
"He had a friend who lived on the shingle in Dungeness. As we were turning to drive back to London, we saw at the same moment a small black wooden house with yolk yellow window frames on the left-hand side of the road, facing the sea. It had a 'for sale' sign stuck in the stones at its feet. I remembered distinctly turning without a word and stopping the car.
"We knocked on the door, we were let in by a charming lady who lived there and after a tour that cannot have lasted longer that 15 minutes were back on the road. Derek had decided before we reached Lydd that he would buy it," she said.
Artist Jeremy Deller, who contributed some works to the campaign, said: "Derek Jarman was an inspirational provocateur in the cultural life of Britain, and a great role model for any artist looking to cause a bit of trouble."
The funds are to be used by the Keith Collins Will Trust to purchase Prospect Cottage, ensuring Jarman's personal documents and library are preserved, and allowing for free public access to the cottage's celebrated garden, the launch of artist residencies, and guided public visits.