|Born||31 January 1942|
|Died||19 February 1994 (aged 52)|
St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, England
|Resting place||St Clement Churchyard, Old Romney, Kent|
|Education||Canford School, Dorset|
|Alma mater||King's College London |
Slade School of Fine Art (UCL)
|Occupation||Film director, gay rights activist, gardener, set designer|
|Notable work||Sebastiane (1976) |
The Tempest (1979)
The Last of England (1988)
War Requiem (1989)
Edward II (1991)
|Style||New Queer Cinema|
|Partner(s)||Philip Macdonald |
(1987–1994; his death)
Jarman was born at the Royal Victoria Nursing Home in Northwood, Middlesex, England, the son of Elizabeth Evelyn (née Puttock) and Lancelot Elworthy Jarman. His father was a Royal Air Force officer, born in New Zealand.
After a prep school education at Hordle House School, Jarman went on to board at Canford School in Dorset and from 1960 studied at King's College London. This was followed by four years at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (UCL), starting in 1963. He had a studio at Butler's Wharf, London, in the 1970s. Jarman was outspoken about homosexuality, his public fight for gay rights, and his personal struggle with AIDS.
On 22 December 1986, Jarman was diagnosed as HIV positive and discussed his condition in public. His illness prompted him to move to Prospect Cottage, Dungeness, in Kent, near the nuclear power station. In 1994, he died of an AIDS-related illness in London, aged 52. He was an atheist. He is buried in the graveyard at St Clement's Church, Old Romney, Kent.
In his last years, Jarman was emotionally and practically supported by the companionship of Keith Collins, a handsome young man he'd met in 1987. While not lovers (Collins had his own partner), the friendship became essential for both of them. Jarman left Prospect Cottage to him.
Jarman's first films were experimental Super 8mm shorts, a form he never entirely abandoned, and later developed further in his films Imagining October (1984), The Angelic Conversation (1985), The Last of England (1987) and The Garden (1990) as a parallel to his narrative work. The Garden was entered into the 17th Moscow International Film Festival. The Angelic Conversation featured Toby Mott and other members of the Grey Organisation, a radical artist collective.
Jarman first became known as a stage designer. His break in the film industry came as production designer for Ken Russell's The Devils (1971). He made his mainstream narrative filmmaking debut with Sebastiane (1976), about the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. This was one of the first British films to feature positive images of gay sexuality; its dialogue was entirely in Latin.
He followed this with Jubilee (shot 1977, released 1978), in which Queen Elizabeth I of England is seen to be transported forward in time to a desolate and brutal wasteland ruled by her twentieth-century namesake. Jubilee has been described as "Britain's only decent punk film", and featured punk groups and figures such as Jayne County of Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Jordan, Toyah Willcox, Adam and the Ants and The Slits.
During the 1980s, Jarman was a leading campaigner against Clause 28, which sought to ban the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools. He also worked to raise awareness of AIDS. His artistic practice in the early 1980s reflected these commitments, especially in The Angelic Conversation (1985), a film in which the imagery is accompanied by Judi Dench's voice reciting Shakespeare's sonnets.
Jarman spent seven years making experimental Super 8mm films and attempting to raise money for Caravaggio (he later claimed to have rewritten the script seventeen times during this period). Released in 1986, Caravaggio attracted a comparatively wide audience; it is still, barring the cult hit Jubilee, probably Jarman's most widely known work. This is partly due to the involvement, for the first time with a Jarman film, of the British television company Channel 4 in funding and distribution. Funded by the British Film Institute and produced by film theorist Colin MacCabe, Caravaggio became Jarman's most famous film to date, and marked the beginning of a new phase in his filmmaking career: from then onwards, all his films would be partly funded by television companies, often receiving their most prominent exhibition in TV screenings. Caravaggio also saw Jarman work with actress Tilda Swinton for the first time. Overt depictions of homosexual love, narrative ambiguity, and the live representations of Caravaggio's most famous paintings are all prominent features in the film.
The conclusion of Caravaggio also marked the beginning of a temporary abandonment of traditional narrative in Jarman's films. Frustrated by the formality of 35mm film production, and by the dependence on institutions and the resultant prolonged inactivity associated with it (which had already cost him seven years with Caravaggio, as well as derailing several long-term projects), Jarman returned to and expanded the super 8mm-based form he had previously worked in on Imagining October and The Angelic Conversation. Caravaggio was entered into the 36th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear for an outstanding single achievement.
The first film to result from this new semi-narrative phase, The Last of England told the death of a country, ravaged by its own internal decay and the economic restructuring of Thatcher's government. "Wrenchingly beautiful … the film is one of the few commanding works of personal cinema in the late 80's – a call to open our eyes to a world violated by greed and repression, to see what irrevocable damage has been wrought on city, countryside and soul, how our skies, our bodies, have turned poisonous", wrote a Village Voice critic.
In 1989, Jarman's film War Requiem produced by Don Boyd brought Laurence Olivier out of retirement for what would be Olivier's last screen performance. The film uses Benjamin Britten's eponymous anti-war requiem as its soundtrack and juxtaposes violent footage of war with the mass for the dead and the passionate humanist poetry of Wilfred Owen.
During the making of his film The Garden, Jarman became seriously ill. Although he recovered sufficiently to complete the work, he never attempted anything on a comparable scale afterwards, returning to a more pared-down form for his concluding narrative films, Edward II (perhaps his most politically outspoken work, informed by his gay activism) and the Brechtian Wittgenstein, a delicate tragicomedy based on the life of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Jarman made a side income by directing music videos for various artists, including Marianne Faithfull, the Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys.
By the time of his 1993 film Blue, Jarman was losing his sight and dying of AIDS-related complications. Blue consists of a single shot of saturated blue colour filling the screen, as background to a soundtrack composed by Simon Fisher Turner, and featuring original music by Coil and other artists, in which Jarman describes his life and vision. When it was shown on British television, Channel 4 carried the image whilst the soundtrack was broadcast simultaneously on BBC Radio 3. Blue was unveiled at the 1993 Venice Biennale with Jarman in attendance and subsequently entered the collections of the Walker Art Institute; Centre Georges Pompidou; MoMA and Tate. His final work as a film-maker was the film Glitterbug, made for the Arena slot on BBC Two, and broadcast shortly after Jarman's death.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (January 2018)
Jarman also directed the 1989 tour by the UK duo Pet Shop Boys. By pop concert standards this was a highly theatrical event with costume and specially shot films accompanying the individual songs. Jarman was the stage director of Sylvano Bussotti's opera L'Ispirazione, first staged in Florence in 1988.
Jarman is also remembered for his famous shingle cottage-garden at Prospect Cottage, created in the latter years of his life, in the shadow of Dungeness nuclear power station. The cottage is built in vernacular style in timber, with tar-based weatherproofing, like others nearby. Raised wooden text on the side of the cottage is the first stanza and the last five lines of the last stanza of John Donne's poem, The Sun Rising. The cottage garden was made by arranging flotsam washed up nearby, interspersed with endemic salt-loving beach plants, both set against the bright shingle. The garden has been the subject of several books. At this time, Jarman also began painting again.
Jarman was the author of several books including his autobiography Dancing Ledge (1984), which details his life until the age 40. He provides his own insight on the history of gay life in London (60's-80's), discusses his own acceptance of his homosexuality at age 16 and accounts of the financial and emotional hardships of a life devoted to filmmaking. A collection of poetry A Finger in the Fishes Mouth, two volumes of diaries Modern Nature and Smiling In Slow Motion and two treatises on his work in film and art The Last of England (also published as Kicking the Pricks) and Chroma.
Other notable published works include film scripts (Up in the Air, Blue, War Requiem, Caravaggio, Queer Edward II and Wittgenstein: The Terry Eagleton Script/The Derek Jarman Film), a study of his garden at Dungeness Derek Jarman's Garden, and At Your Own Risk, a defiant celebration of gay sexuality.
After his death, the band Chumbawamba released "Song for Derek Jarman" in his honour. Andi Sexgang released the CD Last of England as a Jarman tribute. The ambient experimental album The Garden Is Full of Metal by Robin Rimbaud included Jarman speech samples.
Manic Street Preachers' bassist Nicky Wire recorded a track titled "Derek Jarman's Garden" as a b-side to his single "Break My Heart Slowly" (2006). On his album In the Mist, released in 2011, ambient composer Harold Budd features a song titled "The Art of Mirrors (after Derek Jarman)".
Coil, which in 1985 contributed a soundtrack for Jarman's The Angelic Conversation released the 7" single "Themes for Derek Jarman's Blue" in 1993. In 2004, Coil's Peter Christopherson performed his score for the Jarman short The Art of Mirrors as a tribute to Jarman live at L'étrange Festival in Paris. In 2015, record label Black Mass Rising released a recording of the performance. In 2018, composer Gregory Spears created a work for chorus and string quartet, titled "The Tower and the Garden", commissioned by conductors Donald Nally, Mark Shapiro, Robert Geary and Carmen-Helena Téllez, setting a poem by Keith Garebian from his collection "Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems" (2008).
The French musician and composer Romain Frequency released his first album Research on a nameless colour in 2020 as a tribute to Jarman's final collection of Essays “Chroma” released in 1994, the year he died and written while struggling with illness (facing the irony of an artist going blind). The songs are devoted to an unexisting colour and their attendant emotion as a transposition of a certain contemplative state into sound. The album received a positive response from the press.
- Sebastiane (1976)
- Jubilee (1978)
- The Tempest (1979)
- The Angelic Conversation (1985)
- Caravaggio (1986)
- The Last of England (1987)
- War Requiem (1989)
- The Garden (1990)
- Edward II (1991)
- Wittgenstein (1993)
- Blue (1993)
- Electric Fairy (1971)
- Studio Bankside (1971)
- Garden of Luxor (1972)
- Burning the Pyramids (1972)
- Miss Gaby (1972)
- A Journey to Avebury (1971)
- Andrew Logan Kisses the Glitterati (1972)
- Tarot (aka the Magician, 1972)
- The Art of Mirrors (1973)
- Sulphur (1973)
- Stolen Apples for Karen Blixen (1973)
- Miss World (1973)
- The Devils at the Elgin (aka Reworking the Devils, 1974)
- Fire Island (1974)
- Duggie Fields (1974)
- Ula's Fete (aka Ula's Chandelier, 1975)
- Picnic at Ray's (1975)
- Sebastiane Wrap (1975)
- Sloane Square: A Room of One's Own (1976)
- Gerald's Film (1976)
- Art and the Pose (1976)
- Houston Texas (1976)
- Jordan's Dance (1977)
- Every Woman for Herself and All for Art (1977)
- The Pantheon (1978)
- In the Shadow of the Sun (1974) (in 1981 Throbbing Gristle was commissioned to provide a new soundtrack for this 54-minute film)
- T.G.: Psychic Rally in Heaven (1981)
- Jordan's Wedding (1981)
- Pirate Tape (William S. Burroughs Film) (1982)
- Waiting for Waiting for Godot (1982)
- Pontormo and Punks at Santa Croce (1982)
- B2 Tape/Film (1983)
- Catalan (1984)
- Imagining October (1984)
- Will You Dance With Me?" (1984)
- Aria (1987)
- segment: Depuis le Jour
- L'Ispirazione (1988)
- The Clearing (1994)
- Glitterbug (1994) (one-hour compilation film of various Super-8 shorts with music by Brian Eno)
Jarman's early Super-8 mm work has been included on some of the DVD releases of his films.
- The Sex Pistols: The Sex Pistols Number One (1976)
- Marianne Faithfull: "Broken English", "Witches' Song", and "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" (1979)
- Throbbing Gristle: "TG Psychic Rally in Heaven" (1981)
- The Lords of the New Church: "Dance With Me" (1983)
- Carmel: "Willow Weep for Me" (1983)
- Psychic TV Jordi Valls: "Catalan" (1983)
- Wang Chung: "Dance Hall Days" (first version) (1983)
- Language: "Touch The Radio Dance" (1984) (shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City)
- Wide Boy Awake Billy Hyena (1984)
- Orange Juice: "What Presence?!" (1984)
- Marc Almond: "Tenderness Is a Weakness" (1984)
- Bryan Ferry: "Windswept" (1985)
- The Smiths:
- Easterhouse: "1969" and "Whistling in the Dark" (1986)
- Matt Fretton: "Avatar" (unreleased) (1986)
- The Mighty Lemon Drops "Out of Hand" (1987)
- Bob Geldof: "I Cry Too" and "In The Pouring Rain" (1987)
- Pet Shop Boys: "It's a Sin" (1987), "Rent" (1987), several concert projections (released as Projections in 1993), and "Violence" (1995)
- Suede: "The Next Life" (1993)
- Patti Smith: "Memorial Tribute" (1993)
- Jazz Calendar at Covent Garden.
- Don Giovanni at the Coliseum
- The Devils, directed by Ken Russell
- Savage Messiah, directed by Ken Russell
- The Rake's Progress, directed by Ken Russell in Florence
- 1991: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at the Queen's Theatre in the West End
Film and television works prompted by Jarman's life and work
- The Last Paintings of Derek Jarman (Mark Jordan, Granada TV 1995). Broadcast by Granada TV and shown at the San Francisco Frameline Film Festival. Includes footage of Jarman producing his final works. Guests included Margi Clarke, Toyah Wilcox, Brett Anderson, and Jon Savage. To coincide with the broadcast the exhibition, Evil Queen was premiered at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. (Contact BFI for footage).
- Derek Jarman: Life as Art (2004): a film exploring Derek Jarman's life and films by 400Blows Productions/Andy Kimpton-Nye, featuring Tilda Swinton, Simon Fisher Turner, Chris Hobbs and narrated by John Quentin. Broadcast on Sky Arts and screened at film festivals around the world, including Buenos Aires, Cork, London, Leeds, Philadelphia and Turin.
- Derek (2008): a biography of Jarman's life and work, directed by Isaac Julien and written and narrated by Tilda Swinton.
- Red Duckies (2006): Short film directed by Luke Seomore and Joseph Bull, featuring a voice-over from Simon Fisher Turner commissioned by Dazed & Confused for World Aids Day 2006.
- Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman (2009): a "stylized and lyrical coming-of-age" short film combining narrative and documentary elements directed by Matthew Mishory depicting Jarman's "artistic, sexual, and political awakening in postwar England". Jarman's surviving muse Keith Collins and Siouxsie and the Banshees founder Steven Severin both participated in the making of the film, which had its world premiere at the 2009 Reykjavik International Film Festival in Iceland, its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London, and its California premiere at the 2010 Frameline International Film Festival in San Francisco. In 2011, the film was installed permanently in the British Film Institute's National Film Archive in London.
- The Gospel According to St Derek (Andy Kimpton-Nye/400Blows Productions, 2014): screened at the King's College Early Modern Exhibition, the Pacific Film Archive - Berekeley Art Museum, the Australian cinematheque and on the Guardian website, this 40 mins documentary bears witness to Derek Jarman’s unique approach to low-budget film-making and his near-alchemical ability to turn the base components of film-making in to artistic gold.
- Saintmaking: Derek Jarman and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (2021): a documentary by Marco Alessi, commissioned by The Guardian to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Jarman's canonisation into the first British living gay saint by the group of queer activist nuns, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
- Tony Peake, Derek Jarman: A Biography (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1999), pp. 12–13.
- Tony Peake, Derek Jarman: A Biography (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1999), p. 13.
- Jim Ellis, Derek Jarman's Angelic Conversations (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), pp. 200–1.
- Tony Peake, Derek Jarman: A Biography (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1999), pp. 389–94, 532–33.
- Elizabeth Puttock's mother, Moselle, a daughter of Isaac Frederic Reuben, had Jewish ancestry. Tony Peake, Derek Jarman: A Biography (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1999), p. 10
- Tony Peake, Derek Jarman: A Biography (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1999), pp. 8–9.
- "Jarman, (Michael) Derek Elworthy (1942–1994), film-maker, painter, and campaigner for homosexual rights". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55051. Retrieved 28 September 2019. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Deaths England and Wales 1984–2006". Archived from the original on 4 November 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
- William Pencak (2002). "13. Blue: "Our Time Is the Passing of a Shadow"". The films of Derek Jarman. McFarland. p. 159. ISBN 9780786414307.
To those familiar with his other films, Jarman reinforces his atheism and contempt for traditional Christianity, thereby re-emphasizing the point he just made – that "paradise" is "terrestrial" and is the fruit of human love.
- Keith Collins obituary, The Guardian, 2 September 2018
- "Derek Jarman Blue Plaque unveiled in London today". Peter Tatchell Foundation. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "17th Moscow International Film Festival (1991)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Toby Mott". IMDb.com. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "Derek Jarman". UCL Campaign. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
- Anarchy in the UK: Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (1978) Revisited, Julian Upton, Bright Lights Film Journal, Portland, OR, 1 October 2000.Retrieved: 1 January 2015.
- adamscovell (1 June 2015). "Alchemical Magic in Derek Jarman's The Tempest (1979)". Celluloid Wicker Man. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
- "Revisiting Derek Jarman's Caravaggio". Bfi. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
- "Berlinale: 1986 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- "Watch Derek Jarman's Daring 12-Minute Promo Film for Marianne Faithfull's 1979 Comeback Album Broken English (NSFW)". openculture.com. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- Schneider, Martin (3 December 2013). "Derek Jarman's Videos for the Smith and Pet Shop Boys". 12 March 2013. dangerousminds.net. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- "'Blue', Derek Jarman, 1993". Tate. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
- "6 Things You Need To Know About Derek Jarman". BBC Radio 4. Archived from the original on 23 April 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
- "Glitterbug :: Zeitgeist Films". zeitgeistfilms.com. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
- No bums or willies please, Derek, Tariq Ali, The Observer, London, 18 June 2000. Retrieved: 1 January 2015.
- Evil Queen: The Last Paintings, 1994
- Jarman, Derek, and Shaun Allen. Dancing Ledge. Minneapolis: Minn., 2010. Print.
- "Robin Rimbaud – The Garden Is Full of Metal – Homage To Derek Jarman". Discogs. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- "Harold Budd – The Art of Mirrors (after Derek Jarman)". youtube.com. 26 October 2013. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- "The Quietus | Reviews | Peter". The Quietus. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Coil – Themes For Derek Jarman's Blue (1993, Blue, Vinyl), retrieved 5 May 2021
- "Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson* - Live At L' Etrange Festival 2004 - The Art Of Mirrors (Homage To Derek Jarman)". Discogs. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Simoneau·Music·March 3 (3 March 2020). "Video premiere: Romain Frequency - 'Perfect Blue'". Kaltblut Magazine. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Frank, Paula (17 February 2020). "Romain Frequency: Research on a Nameless Colour". Fourculture Magazine. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Kenny, Glenn (4 August 2016). "Review: Dim All the Lights, Again: 'Will You Dance With Me?'". The New York Times.
- The Clearing, retrieved 23 March 2020
- "the making of: Derek Jarman's Music Videos". greg.org. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Throbbing Gristle – "T.G. psychic rally in Heaven"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Derek Jarman's music videos". Johncoulthart.com. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Wang Chung – "Dance hall days [version 1: home movie footage]"". mvdbase.com. 12 November 1983. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- Peake, Tony. 1999. Derek Jarman: A Biography. New York: The Overlook Press/Little, Brown. pg. 312: listed as "Steve Hale's 'Touch the Radio, Dance!'"
- "Marc Almond – "Tenderness is a weakness"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Bryan Ferry – "Windswept"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "the Smiths – "The Queen is dead [version 2: film]"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "the Smiths – "Ask [version 1]"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Pet Shop Boys – "Violence"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Suede – "The next life"". mvdbase.com. 29 March 1993. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Patti Smith – "Memorial tribute"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- From the programme to the production of Waiting for Godot
-  Archived 27 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman | Raindance Film Festival 2009". Raindance.co.uk. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Saintmaking: Derek Jarman and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence". theguardian.com. 22 September 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
- Robert Mills, Derek Jarman's Medieval Modern (D.S. Brewer, 2018), ISBN 9781843844938
- Niall Richardson, 'The Queer Cinema of Derek Jarman: Critical and Cultural Readings' (I.B. Tauris, 2009)
- Michael Charlesworth, Derek Jarman (Reaktion, 2011)
- Martin Frey. Derek Jarman – Moving Pictures of a Painter. (INGRAM Content Group Inc., 2016), ISBN 978-3-200-04494-4
- Steven Dillon. Derek Jarman and Lyric Film: The Mirror and the Sea. (2004).
- Tony Peake. Derek Jarman (Little, Brown & Co, 2000). 600-page biography.
- Michael O'Pray. Derek Jarman: Dreams of England. (British Film Institute, 1996).
- Howard Sooley. Derek Jarman's Garden. (Thames & Hudson, 1995).
- Derek Jarman. 'Modern Nature' (Diaries 1989–1990)
- Derek Jarman. 'Smiling in Slow Motion' (Diaries 1991–1994)
- Derek Jarman. 'Dancing Ledge' (Memoir. ISBN 0-8166744-9-3)
- 'Evil Queen' exhibition catalogue. Foreword by Mark Jordan ISBN 0-9524356-0-8
- Derek Jarman. 'At Your Own Risk' (Memoir, Thames & Hudson, 1991) ISBN 0099222914
- Judith Noble. "The Wedding of Light and Matter: Alchemy and Magic in the Films of Derek Jarman." In Visions of Enchantment: Occultism, Magic, and Visual Culture, eds. Daniel Zamani, Judith Noble, and Merlin Cox (London: Fulgur Press, 2019), pp. 168–181
- Bibliography of books and articles about Jarman via UC Berkeley Media Resources center
- Derek Jarman biography and credits at the BFI's Screenonline
- Derek Jarman: Radical Traditionalist
- Preserving A Harlequin – a Jarman retrospective by Nick Clapson
- Derek Jarman at IMDb
- Portraits of Derek Jarman at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Photographs of Prospect Cottage & garden details at Flickr
- Derek Jarman; On lyrical love and dedication
- Audio recording of Derek Jarman interviewed by Ken Campbell at the ICA, London, 7 February 1984
- Link to correspondence between Derek Jarman and Angelique Rockas
- Time is away show on NTS Radio.