Thursday, July 27, 2006

Artists! Speak Up


Derek Jarman, filmaker, gay rights activist, writer and gardener, lived in a little fisherman's cottage on Dungeness, a lonely spur of land sticking out to sea in southern England. HIV positive and eventually dying of AIDs Jarman created an amazing life-affirming garden out of the rocky shale surrounding his cottage. Full of sculptures made of beach junk, vegetables, stones and rare flowers collected from seeds in hedgerows and by the side of the road, Jarman's garden and life is an inspiration to all artists.

Jarman's final diary is called "Smiling in Slow Motion" and is a record of his final days of living. Even when bitterly ill Jarman was still raging at political injustice, speaking out about hypocrisy, making films and paintings and planting seeds. When I feel that the life of an artist is a hard one, or wonder what kind of cruel, indifferent world we live in, I think of Derek Jarman's courage and fierce, burning creativity in all areas of his life.

3 comments:

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

I LOVE this book, though have never bought it, just drooled over in bookshops. What amazed me was that it was quite a depressing landscape- bleak with industrial incursions but he had carved out an Eden among it all- maybe an analogy that whatever your circumstances , you can create a kind of beauty? like how I hear that during the depression people were happier on the whole, being more community minded and helping each other out...

cheryl said...

I have always found gardeners to have another more sensitive, in-touch side to their characters as if the very act of propagation, the hardship and sheer hope that is required to be successful, against almost overwhelming odds, and to keep trying again and again, gives them an inner strength and peace that non-gardeners don't tap into. Long live this hardy breed.

birdie said...

This is one of my favorite garden books of all time. Jarmin's story is so inspirational and his garden design, unprecedented. His combination of strange and beautiful objects with plant material (and in the harshest environment) to create such a unique and magical place, is unlike any other gardener I'm familiar with. Thank you for reminding us of this special chronicle of this special person's garden!