Derek Jarman-inspired 'pocket park' opens in Manchester

  • Published
Derek Jarman Pocket Park in ManchesterImage source, Manchester City Council
Image caption,
The council said creating the tiny park had been a "labour of love" for a group of volunteers

A "pocket park" inspired by and named in honour of artist and gardener Derek Jarman has opened in Manchester.

The permanent space at Manchester Art Gallery was devised to "complement" a showing of the LGBT activist's work at the venue, the city's council said.

A spokesman said it referenced Jarman's own garden at Dungeness in Kent and included quotes from his writing.

He said creating it had been a "labour of love" for a group of volunteers who are all over the age of 50.

Jarman spent his final years transforming a traditional fisherman's hut into Prospect Cottage and filled the surrounding garden with colourful plants.

It was bought by arts charity Art Fund in 2020 after being at risk of being sold privately.

The filmmaker, who also directed pop videos for the Pet Shop Boys, the Sex Pistols and The Smiths, died of Aids-related complications in 1994, aged 52.

Image source, Howard Sooley
Image caption,
Derek Jarman transformed his traditional fisherman's hut in Dungeness

The council spokesman said the park was the result of a "unique partnership" between the gallery and volunteers from Pride in Ageing, the LGBT Foundation's programme for older people.

He said the "green-fingered group" worked with artist Juliet David-Drufayard, landscape architects from Exterior Architecture, the community team at RHS Bridgewater, garden designer Leon Davis, and a gallery curator to develop the design.

He said it included a "number of innovative urban solutions to combat the effects of climate change" including sustainable planters and a water feature which reuses rainwater to water the plants.

He added that the flora used had "all been chosen as plants that will thrive in the urban environment of city centre Manchester, as well as featuring some of the volunteer gardeners' own favourite plants".

Image source, Manchester City Council
Image caption,
The council said the park referenced Jarman's own garden in Kent and included quotes from his writing

David, who helped create it, said taking part in the project had brought him "so much joy".

"Some lifelong friendships have formed between the volunteers [and] my mental wellbeing and my self-worth have improved as well," he said.

"I no longer feel invisible as an older LGBTQ person and feel more connected to my community."

Image source, Manchester City Council
Image caption,
Councillor Luthfur Rahman said the volunteers had "done an amazing job"

Pride in Ageing manager Lawrie Roberts said the foundation was delighted to be celebrating Jarman's "legacy and historic links to Manchester through this project and to have created this fantastic new green space in the city centre for everyone to use and enjoy".

"As we all know, a gardener's job is never done, and now the garden is finished, our volunteers will be staying on to help maintain the garden through the seasons," he added.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman said the volunteers had "done an amazing job in creating an oasis of green tranquillity on the doorstep of what is one of Manchester's most popular visitor attractions".

"It's the perfect addition to the gallery which is otherwise surrounded by the sights and sounds of city life," he added.

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