Derek Jarman Pocket Park

The Derek Jarman Pocket Park is a new green space at the heart of the city.  Manchester Art Gallery, volunteers from the Pride In Ageing programme at LGBT Foundation and artist Juliet Davis Drufayard worked together with landscape architects Exterior Architecture to create this public garden. The space is inspired by artist, gay rights activist and gardener Derek Jarman’s celebrated garden in Dungeness, Kent, as well as the life experiences of our over 50s LGBTQ+ communities in Greater Manchester.

Derek Jarman (1942-1994), one of the most radical and influential figures in 20th-century British culture, created artworks, films and literature, campaigned for equality and gay rights and fought to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around living with HIV/AIDS. His iconic garden at Dungeness, was an extension of his work as an artist, writer and campaigner, as well as a source of solace in his later years.

The volunteer group who designed and planted the garden are from the same or similar generation to Jarman and continue to be inspired by the messages and movements for LGBTQ+ equality which he and others started in the 1970s and ‘80s. They are supporting LGBT Foundation, a national charity with community centre nearby in Manchester’s Gay Village, to continue their work towards a fair and equal society where all LGBTQ+ people can achieve their full potential.

“We designed the garden to reflect Jarman’s life and work, paying homage to the aesthetic of his black timber home with striking yellow accents, Prospect Cottage. Selected quotes and moments from Jarman’s life and writings are highlighted around the garden.

Jarman’s garden was created in a barren landscape, a shingle beach from which his garden bloomed like a mirage, against all the odds.

Our Pocket Park is in a windy, dark, inhospitable corner of our city and flourishes despite all that, reflecting the difficult environment that some members of the LGBTQ+ communities have to endure or navigate throughout their lives. We welcome everyone to this Jarman-inspired Pocket Park, a green space in the heart of the city, which we hope will offer a space for inspiration, solace and joy for all.”

Pride in Ageing volunteer gardeners

We created a zine, Let’s Get Botanical Together, with Luciana Laing, Research Associate, MICRA, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester who has also helped us to develop this space. To find out more about this project, which includes a timeline of LGBTQ+ history in the city, you can download our zine here: Let’s Get Botanical Together Zine for Derek Jarman Pocket Park


Sustainability in the Derek Jarman Pocket Park

As well as creating a space for people to take time-out to come together, relax, share ideas and enjoy a taste of “immersive nature” in the centre of the city, we wanted to create a resilient garden that would encourage biodiversity, help improve air quality and re-use rainwater.

Our partners United Utilities, RHS Bridgewater, Leon Davis Design and SEL, have designed and produced practical and creative sustainable urban drainage solutions (SUDS) to manage, conserve and re-use water, which are embedded into the fabric of the design.

The space incorporates multiple technologies tackling surface-water flooding and sustainable water use. The 15-metre-long storm water planter is designed to hold over 900 litres of rainwater which is drawn up as and when the plants need it. The green shelter with interconnected green roof, rain chain, water butt and storm water planter slows the flow of rainwater during heavy downpours.

We’re incredibly grateful to all our partners’ support to help us achieve these solutions and create a small oasis in the heart of the city.


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, United Utilities, Exterior Architecture, Royal Horticultural Society, The Postcode Lottery Trust and Manchester Wellbeing Fund.