Courtesy Howard Sooley

Derek Jarman

Artist, filmmaker and author

Derek Jarman (1942-1994) was a queer British artist, filmmaker and author. Trained as a painter, in the 1970s he turned towards film, producing work that was at once avant-garde, pop and baroque. Diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, he was the first public figure to announce his status in England. Around this time, he purchased Prospect Cottage in Kent where he cultivated a garden on a toxic patch of land close to a nuclear power station, drawing an analogy between the inside and the outside of his body as a battlefield. At Prospect Cottage he returned to painting, creating black, ritualistic paintings with an apotropaic dimension, whilst in London he produced colourful, large-format canvases covered with imprecations. After losing his sight to toxoplasmosis, he shot the monochrome film Blue (1993) and published Chroma (Overlook Books, 1995), an erudite and intimate evocation of his relationship with colour.