Derek Jarman

Author: Derek Jarman

Profile: Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman was an English author, film director, diarist, stage designer, gay rights activist, gardener and artist. He was born in Northwood, Middlesex, England and died in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, England. He completed his education at Canford School, Dorset and at King’s College London Slade School of Fine Art (UCL)

Derek Jarman’s most notable works include Sebastiane (1976), Jubilee (1977), Caravaggio (1986), The Last of England (1988), Edward II (1991), Wittquenstein (1993) and Blue (1993). In the 1970s, he owned a studio in London, at Butler’s Wharf. Jarman was always outspoken about his public fight for gay rights, for his homosexuality and his personal struggle with AIDS. He was an atheist and died in London with an AIDS related illness in 1994.

Writing style: Initially Derek Jarman gained popularity as stage designer, followed by a break as production designer in the film industry. He led the campaign against Clause 28 during the 1980s to ban ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools, besides working to raise awareness of AIDS. His two partners were Philip Macdonald and Keith Collins.

Published Texts:


Feature Films

1976 – Sebastiane

1978 – Jubilee

1979 – The Tempest

1985 – The Angelic Conversation

1986 – Caravaggio

1987 – The Last of England

1989 – War Requiem

1990 – The Garden

1991 – Edward II

1993 – Wittgenstein

1993 – Blue

Short Films

1971 – Electric Fairy

1971 – Studio Bankside

1972 – Garden of Luxor

1972 – Burning of the Pyramids

1972 – Miss Gaby

1971 – A Journey to Avebury

1972 – Andrew Logan Kisses the Glitterati

1972 – Tarot (aka the Magician)

1973 – The Art of Mirrors

1973 – Sulphur

1973 – Stolen Apples for Karen Blixen

1973 – Miss World

1974 – The Devils at the Elgin (aka Reworking the Devils)

1974 – Fire Island

1974 – Duggie Fields

1975 – Ula’s Fete (aka Ula’s Chandelier)

1975 – Picnic at Ray’s

1975 – Sebastiane Wrap

1976 – Sloane Square: A Room of One’s Own

1976 – Gerald’s Film

1976 – Art and the Pose

1976 – Houston Texas

1977 – Jordan’s Dance

1977 – Every Woman for Herself and All for Art

1978 – The Pantheon

1974 – In the Shadow of the Sun

1981 – T.G.: Psychic Rally in Heaven

1981 – Jordan’s Wedding

1982 – Pirate Tape

1982 – Waiting for Waiting for Godot

1982 – Pontormo and Punks at Santa Croce

1983 – B2 Tape/Film

1984 – Catalan

1984 – Will You Dance with Me?

1987 – Aria

1988 – L’Lspirazione

1994 – The Clearing

1994 – Glitterbug

Music videos

1976 – The Sex Pistols: The Sex Pistols Number One

1979 – Marianne Faithfull: Broken English, Witches Song and The Ballad of Lucy Jordan

1981 – Throbbing Gristle: TG Psychic Rally in Heaven

1983 – The Lords of the New Church: Dance With Me

1983 – Carmel: Willow Weep for Me

1983 – Jordi Valls: Catalan

1983 – Wang Chung: Dance Hall Days (first version)

1984 – Language: Touch The Radio Dance

1984 – Wide Boy Awake Billy Hyena

1984 – Orange Juice: What Presence?!

1984 – Marc Almond: Tenderness Is a Weakness

1985 – Bryan Ferry: Windswept

1986 – The Smiths

1986 – Easterhouse: 1969 and Whistling in the Dark

1986 – Matt Fretton: Avatar

1987 – The Mighty Lemon Drops ‘Out of Hand’

1987 – Bob Geldof: I Cry Too and In the Pouring Rain

1987 – Pet Shop Boys: It’s a Sin (1987), Rent (1987), several concert projections (1993) and Violence (1995)

1993 – Suede: The Next Life

1993 – Patti Smith: Memorial Tribute


Awards and Acknowledgements:

‘Song for Derek Jarman’ was released in honor of Jarman by the band Chumbawamba after his death

The CD Last of England was released by Andi Sexgant as tribute to Jarman

The Garden Is Full of Metal is an ambient experimental album by Robin Rimbaud is included in Jarman speech samples

A track titled ‘Derek Jarman’s Garden’ was recorded by the Manic Street Preachers’ bassist Nicky Wire as a b-side to his single ‘Break My Heart Slowly (2006).

On his album, In the Mist, released in 2011, ambient composer Harod Budd features a song titled ‘The Art of Mirrors (after Derek Jarman)

Coil, released the 7’ single ‘Themes for Derek Jarman’s Blue’ after his death

Peter Christopherson of Coil performed his score for the Jarman short The Art of Mirrors as a tribute to Jarman live at L’etrange Festival in 2004 in Paris. A recording of the performance was released by record label Black Mass, in 2015.

A work for string quartet and chorus titled ‘The Tower and the Garden was created by Gregory Spears in 2018, which was commissioned by conductors Carmen-Helena Tellez, Donald Nally, Robert Geary and Mark Shapiro setting a poem by Keith Garebian from his collection ‘Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems’ (2008)