Artist Derek Jarman's house saved by conservationists after support from high-profile stars including Tilda Swinton and David Hockney

Kit Heren
© Geraint Lewis

The house of the late artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman has been saved from private sale by conservationists, who were supported by artists and actors including Tilda Swinton.

Mr Jarman, who made several arthouse films in the 1970s and 1980s including Caravaggio and Jubilee, lived in Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, Kent, until his death of an AIDS-related illness in 1994.

The house was managed by his partner Keith Collins until Mr Collins' death in 2018, when it was put up for sale.

But a group of conservationists, led by the arts charity Art Fund, raised over £3.6 million in just ten weeks to buy the house so it can be kept for public use.

The money raised includes over 8,000 donations from members of the public, as well as £750,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £500,000 from Art Fund and £250,000 from the Linbury Trust, among others.

Derek Jarman (© Howard Sooley)

The campaign is the biggest ever arts crowdfunding initiative, Art Fund said.

Stephen Deuchar, the charity's director, said: "Securing the future of Prospect Cottage may seem a minor thing by comparison with the global epidemic crisis which has recently enveloped all our lives.

"But Derek Jarman’s final years at the cottage were an inspiring example of human optimism, creativity and fortitude battling against the ravages of illness, and in that context the success of this campaign seems all the more apposite and right for its time."

Several well-known artists also funded the campaign, including David Hockney and the Turner Prize winning artists Wolfgang Tillmans and Jeremy Deller.

Actress Tilda Swinton and costume designer Sandy Powell, who were friends of Jarman, helped to gather support. Ms Powell gathered signatures from filmmakers like Robert De Niro and Scarlett Johansson on a suit that she later auctioned to raise money for the campaign.

Sandy Powell and Tilda Swinton (PA)

Ms Swinton said: "When Derek initiated the project of making of this little house on the shingle the unique and magically empowering space it has come to be, not only for him, but for so many of us, it was at a time of intense uncertainty and fragility in his own life.

"That our casting the net of our appeal to keep this project alive has coincided with the phenomenal global challenge to community with which we are currently faced – and that that net has still come in so full of bounty – has only served to prove how invaluable this vision of future is to us all."

The house will be managed by local arts group Creative Folkstone.

Mr Jarman's archive from the house, including sketches, notebooks and letter, will be available to view at Tate Britain in London from late 2020.