RED PROTECTS ITSELF. NO COLOUR IS AS TERRITORIAL. IT STAKES A CLAIM, IS ON THE ALERT AGAINST THE SPECTRUM.” – DEREK JARMAN
The colour red, in the form of the large canvas entitled ‘Queer’, is the first painting you see as you enter the Manchester Art Gallery Protest! exhibition. Unmistakably Jarman, this is a powerful entry into this wonderful exhibition which explores Jarman the artist, writer, political activist, and gardener. His works reflect the struggles many of the members in our group have faced in our own lives, giving us a voice while at the same time celebrating the beauty of art and nature.
It’s fair to say we were all pretty excited to be invited to the opening night and donned our glad rags for what turned out to be an emotionally charged, yet life affirming, evening. Opportunities to get together in person have been few and far between and most of our planning has been done online. As you can see, we were pretty thrilled to see each other in person and share the experience!
The exhibition is a major retrospective of Derek Jarman’s work and provides an amazing opportunity to see work never before seen in public. Throughout our time together we have been reflecting on what it means to be a gay man or lesbian in Britain. Jarman’s art stirs powerful memories and emotions. The exhibition is on until 10th April 2022, details can be found here.
The exhibition is the very reason for the creation and existence of our little gardening group and our aim is to reflect Jarman the gardener by creating our own pocket garden in a space almost as inhospitable as Dungeness!
We had hoped to create the garden in time for the opening of the exhibition but working in such a difficult space means we’ve had a number of challenges to overcome. While Derek wrestled with a wild sea and the occasional storm, we’ve had the challenges of a city centre location and listed building status to contend with!
This delay has been to our benefit though as it’s given us the opportunity to incorporate a beautiful and environmentally friendly structure (which references Prospect Cottage) commissioned by United Utilities and LGBT+ Together Employee Network. Designed by award winning garden designer Leon Davis and based on his (gold winning!) Resilience Garden from this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. It not only provides an escape from Manchester’s inclement weather and viewpoint to the garden, but also includes a number of ingenious environmental features.
In-between planning the garden we’ve been reflecting on what it means to be part of this group and what we’ve learnt from sharing our love of gardening and plants as well as our lived experiences. We’ve been in conversation with Dr Luciana Lang from Manchester University who has brilliantly bought this all together in the form of a zine ‘Let’s Get Botanical Together’
Lets get Botanical Together zine PDF
The zine so brilliantly captures our connection to Jarman, what he means to us, how we’ve come together in order to create something which will (hopefully) continue long after the exhibition closes.
Happy New Year from the Jarman Pocket Garden Group! Hopefully our next blog will see us in wellies, trowels at the ready to starting planting!
– Paul Everitt and Hazel Errey, members of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park Group
Derek Jarman ‘Queer’ 1992 Manchester Art Gallery © Keith Collins Will Trust
The Derek Jarman Pocket Park is supported by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Pocket Parks, Pride in Ageing at the LGBT Foundation Manchester, The IGNITION Project, Royal Horticultural Society, Exterior Architecture, The Postcode Lottery Trust, Manchester Wellbeing Fund and United Utilities.