While we work on a new date for the postponed exhibition, we’ll bring you a selection of Derek Jarman related on-line content.
Manchester Art Gallery
Wednesday 1 April 2020–Sunday 6 September 2020
Exhibition temporarily postponed
We are still waiting to establish when we can safely re-open the gallery and what that will mean for re-scheduling the exhibition. In the meantime, we want to share some of the material that we planned to include in the gallery and additional content that we have found during lockdown. Our friends at LUMA Foundation, Basilisk Communications and BBC Arts have given us access to film and audio content from their collections and archives so that we can present an on-line programme that covers different aspects of Jarman’s work, from painting, film and literature to gardening and activism.
We have asked various contributors to talk about aspects of Jarman’s life and work that we can pair with Jarman related film and audio. We’ll be adding other things to see, read and listen to over the coming weeks.
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First of all we have some film and writing contributions from people who knew Jarman. Co-curator of Protest! in Manchester, Jon Savage, has written about Jarman and Punk, which we’ve teamed with the Super 8 film Jordan’s Dance (available to view for two weeks). Filmmaker Mark Kidel made the Arena documentary Derek Jarman: A Portrait for the BBC in 1991. Mark has written an introduction to accompany the film (available to view until September), which offers a rare insight into Jarman’s life and working practices. It’s mainly filmed at Prospect Cottage in Dungeness (which has recently been saved for the nation) at a time when Jarman had just made The Garden and was characteristically busy writing, painting and tending to his beautiful garden. Finally, for the moment, Jason Wood and Dr Andrew Moor have both written about Jarman and Film and there’s a link to Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme with a range of contributors discussing the artist’s film work.
Comments below from LGBT Foundation came from a discussion between staff and community members from the Pride in Ageing programme at LGBT Foundation.
We’ll update this page when we have more content in place and with news on an opening date for the exhibition.
Fiona Corridan, Curator Art & Design. May 2020
Jon Savage: Jarman and Punk
Although of an older generation, Jarman was fascinated by Punk: he shot the first ever footage of the Sex Pistols and directed one of the major film features from within that moment, Jubilee. This began with a Super 8 he filmed of punk pioneer Jordan dancing, but developed into a wider look at the state of England in 1977. The film brought him into prominence as a caustic chronicler of the national mood, seen in such paintings as Margaret Thatcher’s Lunch, as well as reinventing him for a younger generation of artists and filmmakers. This facet of Derek’s work can be seen at its height in the 1987 feature The Last of England: a fast cut polemic – to the pace of pop videos – against the degradation of English life under the heavy hand of Mrs. Thatcher.
With the support of the LUMA Foundation Jarman’s producer and collaborator James Mackay has archived and restored the artist’s Super 8 films. Mackay’s painstaking work has resulted in a large body of work that has been preserved and can now be enjoyed by future generations. Manchester Art Gallery had planned to show three films from this archive, including In the Shadow of the Sun (1981), Andrew Logan’s Miss World (1973) and Jordan’s Dance (1977). We’re delighted that LUMA Foundation and James have agreed to on-line access of Jordan’s Dance for a limited period so that our audiences can enjoy a small piece of what they would have experienced in the exhibition.
The image is unforgettable – a haunting mixture of power and pathos… and to achieve it using not the resources of a major studio but with just a vacant lot, a few cheaply robed and unrobed friends, some burning garbage and the lowest-budget, most hand-held of technologies. Plus, of course, the instinct that lead him to a remarkable performer, and the generosity and intelligence that then let him license and free her to perform.
Jordan’s Dance The Transmutation of Elements by Neil Bartlett from ‘Derek Jarman Super 8’ James Mackay (Thames & Hudson)
Jarman often showed his films silent, as we planned to do in the exhibition and have also done here, but sometimes he used different musical pieces to accompany his films. For Jordan’s Dance one of Jarman’s suggestions was Brahms’ Violin Concerto, and in Jubilee he set the sequence to an 1884 composition by Minkus for the ballet Giselle, but you could choose your own accompaniment. We’d love to hear your suggestions.
Jordan’s Dance Derek Jarman, 1977, S8mm, Colour, 16:15 min
With Jordan, Steve Treatment, Jean Marc Prouveur, Howard Malin
Sections from this film are included in Jarman’s feature film Jubilee
© and courtesy LUMA Foundation
Courtesy Basilisk Communications Ltd
Arena: Derek Jarman – A Portrait (1991)
Filmmaker Mark Kidel talks about making the documentary
I first met Derek in the late 1980s, while I was directing a 20-minute film insert on AIDS in film and TV for Channel 4’s Media Show. I was intrigued by the fact that Derek owned just about every book by maverick archetypal psychologist James Hillman, who was something of a mentor to me. Entire lines from James’s book had made it into the dialogue of Caravaggio. The Arena doc was made in a rush to coincide with the release of The Garden. I was blessed with help from my friend the film-maker John Furse, and the possibility of interviewing all the immensely articulate (and not uncritical) contributors, over three concentrated days at Lime Grove Studios, against a black background, which both made it more efficient and resonated with the black paintings Derek was doing at the time, one of which we see him make – in a hurry – in the documentary. I realise now that the adrenalin-fuelled speed with which we made the film mirrored the ‘fizz” as Tilda Swinton calls it in her interview, that characterised Derek’s creative process. Most of all I was blessed with a brilliant film editor, Andrew Findlay, and the freedom granted by Derek to intercut different films as much as we liked, and to use the soundtrack of one over the images of another. Derek was like that: he believed totally in spontaneity, freedom and experimentation.
Jarman was so defiant during his diagnosis with HIV, and the moment in this documentary where he reads the list of names of people who he knew who had died of the illness really moved us. His work reminds us of the power of love in the struggle against adversity and stigma, and although people living with HIV are now able to access much improved treatment we know that there is still work to do around reducing the stigma around the condition. Find out more about our ongoing work around HIV prevention with the PaSH Partnership.
Mark Kidel is a documentary film maker specialising in the arts and music. He works mainly in the UK and France. His most recent films are feature docs about Elvis Costello and Cary Grant. He is currently working on a feature doc about Leonard Cohen, developing a major series about popular music and drugs and a number of other projects.
Derek Jarman Margaret Thatcher’s Lunch, 1987
Derek Jarman Sowers and Reapers, 1987
Courtesy Keith Collins Will Trust and Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
Jarman and Film
Jason Wood – an introduction to Jarman’s films
Jason Wood is the Creative Director for Film and Culture at HOME. A visiting Professor at Manchester School of Art, he is also the author of multiple published works on cinema.
HOME and Manchester Art Gallery were working together to present a season of Jarman’s film to accompany the exhibition. Jason had curated a selection of films and events with Jarman collaborators and fans, which we will re-schedule when the exhibition takes place. Jason has written an introduction and overview of Jarman’s film output, originally commissioned by the BFI for a series of Blu Ray and DVD issues of Jarman’s work, which he has updated and shared with us here.
Watch Jarman’s films via the BFI player
If you would like to see some of the films discussed you can view many of Jarman’s feature films through BFI Player here.
Dr Andrew Moor – Spirit and Matter
Andrew Moor from the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University researches LGBTQ+ and British cinema history. He has written extensively on the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, whose visionary approach and use of soundtrack influenced Jarman’s own films. This influence is discussed in the Radio 3 programme Free Thinking, first broadcast in 2014, which you can listen to below. Moor’s essay Spirit and Matter: Romantic Mythologies in the films of Derek Jarman features in the Manchester University Press publication Territories of Desire in Queer Culture: Refiguring the Contemporary Boundaries (edited by D. Alderson, L. Anderson), which he has kindly agreed to share here.
Andrew has also sent a link to a discussion he found on YouTube between Powell and Pressburger’s cinematographer Jack Cardiff and Derek Jarman
Essay reproduced courtesy Manchester University Press.
Free Thinking (2014)
Composer Simon Fisher Turner, who recorded many of Jarman’s film soundtracks, including Caravaggio, The Last of England and Blue talks about Jarman’s use of music in film and artist Tacita Dean recalls how Jarman inspired her to take on working in film. Samira Ahmed also discusses Jarman’s career with Briony Hanson, Director of Film at the British Council and writer and broadcaster Jon Savage.
First broadcast on BBC Radio 3, 2014
With thanks to BBC Arts and each of the contributors
Modern Nature is Jarman’s chronicle of life in his remote cottage on the barren coast of Dungeness in the years after his HIV diagnosis. Facing an uncertain future, Jarman found solace in nature, growing all manner of plants. Some perished beneath wind and sea-spray while others flourished, creating brilliant, unexpected beauty in the wilderness.
Modern Nature is both a diary of the garden and a meditation by Jarman on his own life: his childhood, his time as a young gay man in the 1960s and his renowned career as an artist, writer and film-maker. It is at once a lament for a lost generation, an unabashed celebration of gay sexuality, and a devotion to all that is living.
Rupert Everett knew Jarman personally and features in the diaries. The programme was recorded on location at Prospect Cottage, Jarman’s former home, at the very desk where much of Modern Nature was written and features a rich soundscape of the house and area where it was recorded alongside a soundtrack of music taken from works by Benjamin Britten.
Originaly broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2019, Rupert Everett narrating Modern Nature will be available to listen to in full until September 2020.
Written by Derek Jarman
Read by Rupert Everett
Produced, abridged and directed by Simon Richardson
Programme image: Derek Jarman outside Prospect Cottage in Dungeness courtesy of photographer Howard Sooley.
Jarman’s description of his physical and internal isolation whilst living in Dungeness will resonate with many people from LGBT communities, especially at this time of lockdown. 27% of respondents to a recent LGBT Foundation survey said isolation was one of their top three current concerns related to the current crisis. Jarman expressed himself during this time through continued creativity, diary writing and gardening which we think are all still fantastic suggestions, for other ideas check out our list of ways to affirm your LGBT identity whilst in lockdown.
Family Album is a short film featuring photographs and voiceover from Anna and Emma Beynon-Gray telling the story of Derek Jarman officiating their wedding ceremony on Dungeness beach years before the changes in marriage legislation.
Running Time: 1:34
Director: Alison Ivory
Music: David Poore
First shown BBC2 in March 1996
We loved the ‘family shot’ in this video and we know that many people from LGBT communities will feel a strong relation to the concept of chosen family – a support system of people to whom you are not biologically related but you consider them as family. With lockdown in place and Pride and LGBT events postponed or moved online in 2020 it may be harder at the moment for people to be around their chosen family. LGBT Foundation has launched the #MyPrideIs online campaign to continue to celebrate our collectiveness, our unity and our resilience as a community at this time.
Derek Jarman The Garden, 1990, Film still. Photo Liam Daniel courtesy & (c) Basilisk Communications
Derek Jarman Blue, 1993, Film still. Photo Liam Daniel courtesy & (c) Basilisk Communications
A message from the exhibition curator
Due to the Covid 19 crisis our Derek Jarman exhibition has been postponed for the time being. Curator Fiona Corridan explains what this has meant for everybody involved.
Our exhibition Derek Jarman Protest! was meant to open today and over the past 10 days I was meant to be working with the wonderful team of art technicians at the gallery hanging paintings, installing audio visual equipment, finalising labels and basically doing all the nuts and bolts stuff that happens just before an exhibition is due to open. We’ve been working in partnership with IMMA in Dublin, who opened the show last November and who were about to ship all the artworks to us when we both had to shut our doors. It’s very discombobulating to move from a place where you’re geared up for a physical installation and all that comes with it – in this case, not only the exhibition itself, but press events, a public preview event with drag queens from Haute Mess and some long-planned events with organisations and artists from our city looking at Jarman’s films, literature, painting and activism.
We’re working with our partners and the generous people and institutions who lent artwork to the show to look at rescheduling the exhibition. In the meantime, in the absence of the physical exhibition we wanted to share some of the stories, artworks and film that we were planning to include.
Over the coming weeks and with the cooperation of some of our partners, including IMMA, HOME, Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, Basilisk Communications and LUMA we will update this page with writing, imagery, interviews, Q&As and links to Derek Jarman’s films, so watch this space…
Fiona Corridan, Curator Art & Design. 1 April 2020.
A major retrospective of the work of one of the most influential figures in 20th century British culture.
PROTEST! is a major retrospective of the work of of one of the most influential figures in 20th century British culture, Derek Jarman (1942-1994). The exhibition will focus on the diverse strands of Jarman’s practice as a painter, film maker, writer, set-designer, gardener and political activist. This is the first time that all of these strands of his practice will be brought together in over 20 years. PROTEST! captures Jarman’s engagement with both art and society, as well as his contemporary concerns with political protest and personal freedoms arising from the AIDS crisis. Major bodies of work, from the 1960s to the 1990s, have been brought together; many of which have never been seen in public before.
Originally presented at IMMA, Dublin from 15 November 2019 – 23 February 2020, curated by Seán Kissane, the exhibition will be re-presented at Manchester Art Gallery by Curators Fiona Corridan, Manchester Art Gallery and author and filmmaker Jon Savage.
Derek Jarman, PROTEST! is organised by IMMA, Dublin, in partnership with Manchester Art Gallery, and is accompanied by additional projects at VOID, Derry, HOME, Manchester and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.
The exhibition has been developed in close cooperation with the Keith Collins Will Trust, James Mackay and Amanda Wilkinson Gallery.
PROTEST!, published by Thames and Hudson 2020
IMMA and Thames and Hudson have published a major new monograph on Derek Jarman to accompany the retrospective, covering Jarman’s artistic development as well as reflecting on his life and legacy. The book will feature contributions from Seán Kissane, Curator, IMMA; Sir Norman Rosenthal; Jonny Bruce, gardener and journalist; Professor Robert Mills, University of London; Jon Savage, author and filmmaker; Michael Charlesworth, an authority on landscape and the history of gardens and author of the book ‘Derek Jarman, Critical Lives’, and writers Olivia Laing and Philip Hoare.
Buy Protest! from the Manchester Art Gallery online shop.
Derek Jarman Queer, 1992 detail
Courtesy Estate of Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman Margaret Thatchers Lunch, 1987
Courtesy Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
Derek Jarman Flesh Tint, 1990
Courtesy Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
Derek Jarman Fuck me blind, 1993
Courtesy Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
Derek Jarman I.N.R.I., 1988
Courtesy Amanda Wilkinson Gallery