Gilbert McCarragher


Photo London 2024

Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House exhibition

From 15-19 May 2024 at Somerset House, London, as part of Photo London.

In 2018, Gilbert McCarragher was asked to create a visual record of Prospect Cottage, the iconic Dungeness house of artist, filmmaker and gay rights activist, Derek Jarman. Situated on the austere and windswept shingle beach near the looming nuclear power station, the house and surrounding garden has become an artwork in its own right, drawing Jarman devotees and curious onlookers from around the globe.

For Jarman and his partner, Keith Collins, Prospect Cottage was both a home and a creative work-in-progress, as well as a sanctuary and a reflection of the filmmaker’s restless artistic spirit. Following Jarman’s death, aged 52, in 1994, Collins tended the house for a further twenty-four years. Two weeks after Collins turned the key in the lock for the last time in June 2018, McCarragher began a project at the house that would last, on and off, for almost three years.

The first photographer to document inside Prospect Cottage so extensively, McCarragher progressed from room to room – studio, writing room, bedroom – capturing the unique atmosphere of the house in large format interiors and intimate details. McCarragher’s newly published book Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House (Thames & Hudson) is an extensive collection of images and written reflections of his time alone at the cottage.

McCarragher captured the unique atmosphere of Prospect Cottage at an important moment, as soon after he began photographing the house Collins died, and the house left private ownership for the last time.

McCarragher has created a portrait of the house in its purest and most intimate form, reflecting a work of art that was created as a kind of extended love letter from Derek to Keith. Through his acutely observed images, McCarragher reveals Jarman’s and Collins’ shared home as a place in which the inhospitable and the ordinary have been transformed into something profound and poetic: a creative living space in which each part cares for another and every part belongs.

— Sean O'Hagan, Curator


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