'Dear God' perfectly captures the spirit of Derek Jarman

19/02/2020

Our newest reward is very special indeed and perfectly captures the rebellious and resilient spirit of Derek Jarman, who died 26 years ago today.

It is a special facsimile edition of an original work made by Jarman in the late 1980s, which has been hanging in Prospect Cottage for over a quarter of a century and has never before been made public.

Dear God (1987) uses a range of materials including tar, nails and dried flowers and contains three hand-etched glass fragments, one of which reads:

dear God / if you insist on reincarnation, please promise me that I will be queer / tho’ / I've heard you don't approve / I'll go down on my knees / yours faithfully / Derek Jarman

Although better known for his films, painting was always central to Jarman’s wider artistic vision. His compositional skill and visual daring were evident in his early set designs for theatre, ballet and film, and throughout his cinematic work.

He studied at the University of London and the Slade School of Art in the early 1960s and was part of a group of young artists, including Patrick Procktor and David Hockney – and his love for painting never left him.

His work also reflected his increasingly prominent role in the fight for gay rights, as well as his concerns with the political and personal freedoms of those, like himself, diagnosed with HIV. This can be seen in paintings such as Queer (1992) Morphine (1992), and Ataxia – Aids is Fun (1993). These densely textured works convey a real sense of anger but are equally marked by wit and defiance. They remain powerful comments on the socio-political climate of the time.

Many of his later works were made at Prospect Cottage as Jarman confronted the reality of his illness through art. Dear God is typical of this time, a starkly beautiful piece of assemblage and poetry that represents a typically creative, humorous and resilient response to his diagnosis and gives a deeply personal insight into Jarman’s feelings about his own mortality.

If you know someone who's been waiting to donate, let them know about our new reward, Derek Jarman, Dear God, 1987.

Back to top
One moment please