Manchester Art Gallery

Derek Jarman Protest! and Pocket Park

Derek Jarman Protest!, the much-anticipated retrospective of the celebrated artist, filmmaker, gardener and activist was due to open in April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our plans, but with the kind support of the Ampersand Foundation and the exhibition lenders, we were delighted to reschedule the show – which opened today.As you visit the exhibition, when entering the gallery you will notice the foundations of a new garden being developed. This is the new Derek Jarman Pocket Park, which has been created by the LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Ageing group.This is a volunteer group of green-fingered LGBTQ+ over 50s from Greater Manchester, with support from Exterior Architecture, and funding from Pockets Parks, Postcode Local Trust, United Utilities and the Manchester Wellbeing Fund.  

This new garden has been inspired by, and is in tribute to, Derek Jarman and his celebrated garden at Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, Kent. Dungeness is often referred to as “Britain’s only desert” with its arid climate and single beach; the characteristics of the landscape shaped Jarman’s garden design. 

As well as beautiful and useful space at the heart of the city, it is also there to raise awareness of older members of the LGBT+ community and support that they are seen and heard. The garden will take shape over the course of the exhibition, – and as we welcome in the Spring it will begin to bloom. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting plans, the path to developing the garden has been long, yet fruitful and the group has bolstered much support. Exterior Architecture has worked with the group to design the space to evoke Jarman’s garden in Dungeness, while being sympathetic to the challenges of the space. RHS Bridgewater have helped the group select plants and flowers that will thrive in the windy and shady pocket of central Manchester.  

United Utilities and their LGBT+ Together Employee Network have has commissioned a beautiful and useful shelter featuring a green roof that helps slow down rainfall flow by 50 percent, letting the water flow through the steel guttering and into the chainlink downpipe creating a relaxing and peaceful sound. The shelter is based on Leon Davis’ Gold medal award-winning garden design for the Resilience Garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park this year – he will also work on the Jarman Pocket Park. 

As we start to come to terms with increased extremes of more sudden and frequent wet and dry weather events in the North West, our homes, gardens and outdoor spaces need to become more climate resilient. 

All of the planters in the pocket park will have a reservoir incorporated into the base which will capture excess rainwater during wet conditions and store it for the plants to draw up when needed during dryer periods. This technology has been developed by SEL and has been tested at the IGNITION Living Lab at the University of Salford. 

When you visit the exhibition, by making a donation you will be supporting the garden as well as helping us bring to life changing exhibitions and programmes to Manchester Art Gallery in future. You can make a donation when you book your ticket too. You can book your free ticket here

You can read the Pride In Ageing Pocket Park blog here 

The Derek Jarman Pocket Park has been developed by LGBT Foundation Pride in Ageing with the kind support of: 

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – Pocket Parks 

Postcode Local Trust  

Exterior Architecture  

Manchester Wellbeing Fund 

United Utilities 


RHS Bridgewater 


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