The Liminal Landscape

The artist, writer and film director Derek Jarman spent much of his later life on the shingle  of Dungeness at his home Prospect Cottage. Jarman had purchased Prospect Cottage impulsively with an inheritance received from his father and used it as a second home and asa source of respite from his central London studio.

With his health declining having contracted AID’s, Jarman engaged with the landscape ofDungeness and returned to his first loves of gardening and nature. Jarman described his experiences of nature and the landscape surrounding his home in his diary. Published asModern Nature, Jarman’s diary is an intimate record of his life between 1989 and 1990, and recounts the wilderness of Dungeness and his time spent at Prospect Cottage in fascinating detail.

Sunday 1st of January 1989

Prospect Cottage, it's timbers black with pitch, stands on the shingle at Dungeness.Built eighty years ago at the sea’s edge – one stormy night many years ago wavesroared up to the front door threatening to swallow it..... Now the sea has retreatedleaving bands of shingle. You can see these clearly from the air; they fan out fromthe lighthouse at the tip of the Ness like contours on a map.

Prospect faces the rising sun across a road sparkling silver with sea mist. One smallclump of dark green broom breaks through the flat ochre shingle. Beyond, at thesea’s edge, are silhouetted a jumble of huts and fishing boats, and a brick kutch,long abandoned which has sunk like a pillbox at a crazy angle; in it, many years ago,the fishermen’s nets were boiled in amber preservative.

There are no walls or fences. My garden’s boundaries are the horizon. In this desolatelandscape the silence is only broken by the wind, and the gulls squabbling roundthe fishermen bringing in the afternoon catch. 

My own time spent in Dungeness in the summer of 2020 was inspired by the literary descriptions of Derek Jarman. My aim was to photograph the spaces he so vividly described and to create my own visual response to the landscape, as he had when writing his diary. In homage to Jarman, I also recorded my own written responses to the landscape in my diary.


Jarman, D. (2018) Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989 - 1990, London:Vintage. 

210mm x 280mm perfect bound soft back book. 60 colour pages on 200GSM uncoated paper with 350GSM uncoated cover.

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