DEREK JARMAN, British film director, died (b. 1942); Jarman first became known as a stage designer getting a break into the film industry as production designer for Ken Russell’s The Devils (1970), and later made his debut in “overground” narrative film-making with the groundbreaking Sebastiane (1976), arguably the first British film to feature positive images of gay sexuality, and the first film entirely in Latin. Jarman’s work broke new ground in creating and expanding the fledgling form of ‘the pop video’ in England, and as a forthright and prominent Gay Rights activist.
Several volumes of his diaries have been published. 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.
He is also remembered for his famous shingle cottage-garden, created in the latter years of his life, in the shadow of the Dungeness power station. The house was built in tarred timber. 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’s beach garden was made using local materials and has been the subject of several books. At this time, Jarman also began painting again (see the book: Evil Queen: The Last Paintings, 1994).
In December 1986, he was diagnosed HIV+, and was notable for later discussing his condition in public. His illness prompted him to move to Prospect Cottage, Dungeness, near to the nuclear power plant. In 1994 he died of an HIV/AIDS-related illness. Chumbawumba subsequently released Song for Derek Jarman in his honor. Andi Sexgang, another music artist released the CD Last of England as a tribute.