Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeCultureArt & Theatre

10 Beautiful photographs of artist Derek Jarman's iconic home

2 min read

10 Beautiful photographs of artist Derek Jarman's iconic home
A new book from photographer Gilbert McCarragher invites readers through the front door of artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman's stunning home, Prospect Cottage
Prospect Cottage was the second home of artist, filmmaker and gay rights activist Derek Jarman. He spent the last eight years of his life there, following a diagnosis of HIV. The house is considered by some to be his final and most intimate work of art, but few have been able to see inside.
A new book by photographer Gilbert McCarragher takes readers into Jarman's final sanctuary, meticulously capturing his former home through 160 photographs accompanied by essays that reflect on the experience of photographing there. 

Prospect Cottage, Dungeness

Elder, planted directly opposite the entrance, is said to keep witches from the house; garlands of holey stones likewise play a protective role. As you enter, you see two rows of six black-and-white stills from Derek's films on the left wall, and a collection of framed posters and a small artwork by British pop artist Richard Hamilton on the right.
Originally a fisherman's hut, Jarman came across Prospect Cottage on a location visit to Dungeness with actress Tilda Swinton in 1986. He purchased it with money that he had been left by his recently deceased father, and lived there with companion Keith Collins until his death in 1994. While they were not lovers, Jarman described theirs as "the best relationship of his life". 
Collins kept Jarman's desk exactly as Jarman himself had left it. In his reflections on photographing the house, McCarragher notes that Jarman's desk arrangement "really looked as if Derek had just upped and moved to another room."
Black nut necklaces in one of Jarman’s altar-like assemblages.
The Garden Room, looking out onto the garden of Prospect Cottage. The cottage garden was made by arranging flotsam that had washed up nearby, along with endemic salt-loving beach plants. There is an air of magic about the arrangement: "People thought I was building a garden for magical purposes," Jarman said at the time, "a white witch out to get the nuclear power station."
Black foil pasted atop the thick oil paintings reads "Ego Et Arcadia" (Arcadia and I) and "Horror".
Above the fireplace, a charcoal drawing of Keith by Robert Medley, made in 1989.
The bedroom. McCarragher's intimate photos of Jarman's cottage offer a glimpse into the inner world of the artist and activist known for his avant-garde, groundbreaking films, such as Sebastiane, which portrayed the life of Saint Sebastian and featured dialogue entirely in Latin.
A clapperboard from The Tempest, which Jarman directed in 1979. He was attracted to the Shakespeare play due to its themes of forgiveness, and he wanted to strike a balance between theatre and film. He stated in his production notes, "I hope to capture something of the mystery and atmosphere of the original without descending to theatrics. There are films where magic works."
Excerpt from John Donne, "The Sunne Rising", 1633, on the southern wall of Prospect Cottage.
Derek Jarman's House cover
Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House with photography by Gilber McCarragher is published 4th April by Thames & Hudson, £25
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit