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DUNGENESS - 30 August
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Derek Jarman's garden
A few days after returning from Tokyo it was time to leave London and England again. I decided to stop off enroute to the ferryboat to France at Dungeness and look at Derek Jarman’s garden once more. Lovingly tended by Derek’s partner, Keith, the garden has retained all of its strange beauty since Derek’s death. Click here for video footage of the garden.
Crouching on the shingle with my little camera I was flooded by memories of being with Derek in Russia, Armenia and Georgia nearly twenty years ago when we were two members of a film delegation. We laughed and talked and became co-conspirators, charging around filming with Derek’s 8mm camera, agreeing on almost everything of substance. Click here to read about my experiences in Moscow with Derek.
No one who met him could remain unaffected by Derek’s gift of enthusiasm and genius for inclusion in whatever project he was working on. And part of his legacy, for me and for anyone who came into contact with him, was a teaching by example on how to survive as an artist and filmmaker. You simply keep making things with whatever you have. If what you have is a big budget and a crew you make a big film. If it is no budget and a small camera you make a handheld one-person epic. If you have a patch of shingle and some driftwood you make a garden.
Derek could be angry, and was, about many important things, but he never drowned in a culture of complaint. He just got on with it. Even when, towards the end of his life, he was seriously ill, losing his sight and constantly in and out of hospital. Standing in the garden, the power-station looming behind you out of the haze, the horizon ahead of you flat, un-ending, the detritus from the beach transformed by him into objects of great and enduring beauty, you can feel his presence, hear his laugh, and are reminded of the joy of making things.
I suppose a film is, ultimately, a thing, even when it reaches, as Derek’s films always did, towards transcendence.
Derek Jarman's garden
Taking photos with camera phone
Derek in Russia
The joy of making things
Dungeness in bloom
The garden's strange beauty
Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated