Manchester Art Gallery

The Derek Jarman Pocket Park

Derek Jarman sought solace in creating a garden on Dungeness, an inhospitable part of the South coast, and taught himself how to plant and encourage flora and fauna to grow in a challenging landscape. He created the garden at a difficult stage in his life, when he had been diagnosed with AIDS and at a time when there was little hope of managing the illness and prolonging his life. The garden became central to his art, filmmaking, writing and life and continues to be a source of inspiration for artists, writers and gardeners.

Inspired by creativity

We wanted to take inspiration from the creativity inherent in the garden and think about how we could connect it to what we were doing in Manchester for the Protest! exhibition.

We’re working in partnership with artist Juliet Davis-Dufayard and Pride in Ageing, a group of advocates working with the LGBT Foundation to ensure that Greater Manchester becomes one of the best places for LGBT+ people to grow older.

The garden will be a place for reflection and activity as part of the gallery’s programme of activities for community groups, families and schools.

Thanks to funding from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Pocket Parks, and the Postcode Local Trust, the partners will develop a community focussed, creative project with the five ways to wellbeing at its core: to connect; be active; take notice; learn something new and give. The long term aim is for the garden to be a place for reflection and activity as part of the gallery’s programme of activities for community groups, families and schools.

Once we emerge from the current crisis, it will be wonderful to have such a celebratory, creative project to work on, that will develop, bloom and grow before the eyes of Manchester’s residents and commuters. Over time the garden will support Manchester Art Gallery’s vision that is based on the importance of us learning to use art to achieve real social impact. It will eventually become a new outdoor space for the gallery to develop new programmes of discussion and debate, words and music created by the people of Manchester. It’s a long way from Dungeness and of course much less solitary, but we hope Derek would approve.

Photography: Howard Sooley


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