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James Mackay: The Gardens of Jarman

Derek Jarman’s bleak coastal home of Dungeness in Kent, his garden and the nearby landscape surrounding a nuclear power station, a setting Jarman compares to the Garden of Eden or Garden of Gethsemene, became the setting for many of his films.

One of Jarman’s most frequent collaborators, producer James Mackay worked on films such as Blue (1993), The Garden (1990) and Caravaggio (1986).

On 27th October, James was joined in conversation to discuss the role of the garden in Jarman’s films by artist Peter Fillingham, Jarman’s friend and collaborator: from extracts of Derek’s writings to a discussion of the Hanging Garden at Phoenix House on Charing Cross Road (Jarman’s flat from 1984, a stone’s throw from Soho and the backdrop to the era devoted to “dressing-up” and nocturnal escapades).

The act of gardening gave Jarman the solace and energy to continue working, even after AIDS robbed him of his sight. He created the film Blue (1993) in response to going blind, a meditation on impending death. As his vision slowly deteriorated the colour that remained the longest was blue.

  • James Mackay

    Bio »

    James Mackay

    James Mackay met Derek Jarman in 1979 whilst working at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op. In 1981, he established a production and distribution company Dark Picture, concentrating on new film and video.
    He began collaborating with Jarman and produced some of his most important films including The Angelic Conversation (1985), The Garden (1990) and Blue. Thanks to his dedication to experimental film, Jarman saw him as the ‘most faithful to an idea of cinema’ of all the producers he worked.

  • Peter Fillingham

    Bio »

    Peter Fillingham

    Artist Peter Fillingham was a friend of Derek Jarman, and worked for many years as collaborator on several of his films and exhibitions. First and foremost a sculptor and curator, his practice includes site-specific, object-based installation, regeneration and cultural events.