Derek Jarman Pocket Park Blog
Manchester Art Gallery and Pride in Ageing at LGBT Foundation are working in partnership to create a Derek Jarman Pocket Park, which will be situated at the Mosley Street entrance of Manchester Art Gallery. This new community garden space has been designed and planted by a volunteer group of green-fingered LGBT+ over 50s from Greater Manchester, with support from artist Juliet Davis-Dufayard and funding from Pockets Parks and the Manchester Wellbeing Fund. As well as providing a functional space for Manchester Art Gallery’s wellbeing work the garden will be a place for the people of Manchester and the wider world to come together, relax, share ideas and enjoy a taste of “immersive nature” in the centre of the City. Garden design support has been kindly provided by Exterior Architecture, the IGNITION Project and Royal Horticultural Society, and the garden will contain a number of innovative urban solutions to combat the effects of climate change.
The planting in the Derek Jarman Pocket Park is inspired by filmmaker, gay rights activist and gardener Derek Jarman’s celebrated garden in Dungeness as well as the life experiences of our LGBT+ volunteer group, who are of the same or similar generations to Jarman. Almost 30 years on from Jarman’s landmark QUEER exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, this volunteer group continue to be inspired by the messages and movements for LGBT+ equality which Jarman and others started in the 1980s, and are supporting LGBT Foundation to continue their work towards a fair and equal society where all LGBT people can achieve their full potential. The garden space will be launched to coincide with International Day of Older Persons on October 1st, shortly ahead of the Derek Jarman Protest! retrospective which opens at Manchester Art Gallery on December 1st.
Our blog, launching today will provide a flavour of the project in the run up to the garden opening, in the words of members of the volunteer group…
LGBT+ over 50s Go Botanical Together!
Imagine a wild and windswept corner of the British coastline, a headland of pebbles and shingle, blasted by the sun in summer and battered by winter storms and salt spray, and all within the shadow of a nuclear power station. Not exactly a place that conjures up the beauty of nature, and yet for artist, film maker and gay activist Derek Jarman, the garden he created at Prospect Cottage in Dungeness was both a ‘therapy and a pharmacopoeia’.
Dungeness, Dungeness, your beauty is the best, forget the hills and valleys. This landscape is like the face you overlook, the face of an angel with a naughty smile.- Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s Garden, Derek Jarman and Howard Sooley. Thames & Hudson, first published 1995
Some of you may recognise this strip of land in Manchester city centre – the stone flags, Victorian iron fencing, a background of office blocks and a glimpse to the right of a Grade I listed building…
…I won’t keep you guessing, it’s a small part of the land surrounding Manchester Art Gallery. Nothing special, I hear you say! Most of us have probably given it little thought as we walk down Mosley Street, but for a small group of us (9 in total), it has been the subject of many Zoom meetings over the past 10 months!
Our group includes five Pride in Ageing LGBT Foundation volunteers, LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Ageing Manager, a gallery curator, an artist and an anthropologist! Why? What’s this all about?
In December 2021, the Derek Jarman Protest! exhibition will be opening at Manchester Art Gallery. Jarman (1942-1994) was and is an important part of LGBTQ history in the UK, speaking out publicly for gay rights and fighting homophobia throughout his life. Along with many other gay men in the 1980s & 90s, Jarman was diagnosed HIV positive and died from an AIDS-related illness at the age of 52.
The Protest! exhibition will focus on the diverse strands of Jarman’s practice as a painter, film-maker, set-designer, political activist and…
…gardener. This brings us back to the space in front of Manchester Art Gallery and our plans for this project. We’ve come together as a collective of Greater Manchester’s over 50s LGBTQ communities, a bunch of knowledgeable, and not so knowledgeable, amateur gardeners, and a group of people who all share a passion for the beauty and power of gardens, plants and nature. And we’re very excited to beworking with Pride in Ageing at LGBT Foundation, Manchester Art Gallery, Exterior Architecture, RHS Ignition project and artist Juliet Davis-Drufayard to plan and create a Jarman-inspired garden in this space, which everyone will be welcome to use. Funded by a Pocket Parks grant, with support from other trusts, charities and businesses, we’ll be creating the ‘Derek Jarman Pocket Park’.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will be blogging about our progress with the garden, our thoughts and ideas about Derek Jarman, LGBTQ communities, gardening, nature and anything else that comes up along the way! We would be delighted if you join in our discussions on this blog and of course, visit the exhibition and garden if you’re in Manchester later this year.
– Paul Everitt and Hazel Errey, members of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park Group
Prospect Cottage, Dungeness. Image Courtesy Howard Sooley
Derek Jarman ‘Queer’ 1992 Manchester Art Gallery © Keith Collins Will Trust
Derek Jarman (front, left) awaiting arrest after police blocked the OutRage! March on Parliament for the repeal of anti-gay laws (February 1992). Courtesy Peter Tatchell Foundation
Derek Jarman outside Prospect Cottage, Dungeness. Image Courtesy Howard Sooley
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 and Manchester Wellbeing Fund.