Words and Music from Prospect Cottage

Watch on 21 November

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage is to be the setting for a unique event featuring Ben Wishaw reading from ‘Modern Nature’ journals

Derek Jarman’s Dungeness home, Prospect Cottage, is to be the setting for a performance – Strange Concord – that will present the artist’s late 20th century diaries alongside music composed over the same period of time. The performance will be the centrepiece of a new festival, Autumn Reads, which is replacing the Creative Folkestone Book Festival for this year, due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Acclaimed actor Ben Whishaw (perhaps best known for playing Q in the James Bond films Skyfall, Spectre and the forthcoming No Time To Die, as well as voicing the title character in successive, greatly loved Paddington films) will read from Jarman’s Modern Nature journals inside the cottage on the starkly beautiful Romney Marsh.

The special event of words and music will see Jarman’s thoughts, memories, observations and experiences accompanied by New York avant garde composer John Zorn’s The Dead Man and Polish contemporary classical composer Henry Gorecki’s Good Night. The 70-minute Strange Concord Time Machine Event will see Ben Whishaw making his way through the cottage as daytime turns to dusk. The event, filmed and produced by The Space, will be free to view on Saturday 21 November at creativefolkestone.org.uk. 

Modern Nature is an enduringly resonant collection of diary entries made by Derek Jarman after moving to Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, having been diagnosed HIV Positive. Facing an uncertain future, Jarman decided to make Dungeness his home and to create a garden in the unforgiving landscape. Modern Nature combines Jarman’s thoughts with his memories of London’s art scene in the 1960s and 1970s.

In April this year, Prospect Cottage was saved from falling into private hands by a major fundraising campaign led by The Art Fund,which saw several  thousand donations from the public,alongside funding from charities, trusts and foundations.

Strange Concord Time Machine Event features Ben Whishaw, a string quartet (Brian O’Kane, Sascha Bota, Rebecca Chan, Marije Johnston) playing the thirteen movements of Zorn’s The Dead  Manand soprano Nazan Fikret performing Gorecki’s  Good Night, accompanied by piano, flute and tam tams (Julius Drake and Ileana Ruhemann) on 21 November.

Ben Wishaw headshot
Ben Whishaw. Image by Tomo Brejc