The Jarman Award: Derek Jarman: Crossing Paths: Part Two: notes by Anna Thew for Tony Peake, Derek Jarman’s biographer
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The Jarman Award: Derek Jarman: Crossing Paths: Part Two: notes by Anna Thew for Tony Peake, Derek Jarman’s biographer
The deposition scene from The Last of England, image courtesy of Anna Thew

Behind Closed Doors, image courtesy of Anna Thew

I met Derek in 1977, through Kevin Whitney and Keith Milow, who were in the orgy scene in Jubilee.  I was a painting student at Chelsea.  I went to the cast and crew preview of Jubilee in some warehouse space, with Kevin and Jock McFadyen  (Keith Milow was my favourite tutor, or I was his favourite student).

Later I met Derek at one of his big film studio parties at Butler’s Wharf, where I went with Jock.  Adam Ant was singing.  Bits of Jubilee, Jordan, dancing the dying swan with her trident in front of a flaming fire (slowed to 3 fps) were being projected on a sheet above the drinks table.  Three or four boys were canoodling on a couch in a bedouin like tent with sheets for walls. The loo and bath were on a podium separated from the throbbing throng by an old cloth hospital screen. Derek kissed us all on the way in and said,  “Make yourselves at home and enjoy yourselves!”, (which we did).

In 1981 – Alle Macht der Super Acht came to town (to the Co-op Cinema), courtesy of the Goethe Institute.  Padeluun, a skinhead Super 8 film-maker with a a manifesto, and a mouse, which got eaten by Claws, my cat, stayed at my house, and we went to a screening of Derek’s Super 8’s at B2 Gallery in Metropolitan Wharf.  (See Padeluun’s Alle Macht der Super Acht – All Power to Super 8, manifesto 1981).

Derek tried to pull Padeluun and lured him to his lair with a crystal ball.  Derek filmed Padeluun chiaro scuro, gazing into the crystal ball, and had P’s black and yellow stripy sticker on his fridge for years to come, DIES IST MEIN ANTIHUMANISTICHES KUNSTWERK*. (This is my anti-humanist art work).

With Padeluun there was this kind of shared love interest, but Padeluun, though charmed, was thoroughly fickle and not for turning.  He came back clutching Derek’s crystal ball, and ran around with me.  His sticker is still on my stairs.

At the 1982 Summer Show at the London Film-makers’ Co-operative, a Friday Night (All Super 8/ Slide Tape) Special included Derek’s slowed
B2 MOVIE with Jean-Marc Prouveur, a short by Andrew Logan, KISS, and my twin screen BERLIN MEINE AUGEN.  Derek came with entourage. I was lowered through the ceiling on a rope in front of the screen, in red leopard skin tights and blue fluffy boots with my crocodile suitcase.  Exodus Derek and pals on seeing Padeluun re-emerge in yet another Low Gauge Romance, to more Wagner! or more probably to get to the Subway club in time…

1981 or 82 – SEPTEMBER IN THE PINK, the first Lesbian and Gay Festival of Film and Performance was organised by Thomas Mutke and Bruno de Florence  at the London Film-makers’ Co-operative, Gloucester Avenue, NW1, and featured Derek Jarman, Cerith Wyn Evans, John Maybury, Sally Potter, and a fated rabbit skinning performance by CHARLIE PIG! (now P!) where a fight with a homophobic rocker band broke out and Bruno lost some teeth.

In 1983, I was teaching at St, Martin’s, and I invited Derek to screen his Super 8′s.  Isaac Julien, Richard Heslop, and Sandra Lahire were in the front row.  Derek brought his entire Super 8 oeuvre in a big black hold all.  He was nervous making up his mind about what to show.  I asked him what he would take to his tomb if he were Tutankhamun.  Derek was completely taken by this idea and immediately chose GERALD’S FILM as the one he wanted to take into the After Life.  He stayed the rest of the day filming and being filmed. Then he didn’t want to hear of being paid.  The students were reeling for weeks. (The b/w reel with Gerald Incandela and Jean Marc Prouveur naked playing with a magnifying glass and some art books in NY, became his choice, slowed to 3fps and blown up to 16mm, for THE DREAM MACHINE).

In the 1983 and 1984 Salons organised by Cordelia Swann at the ICA,  Derek’s films feature.  The ICA is swamped for several days.

The New British Super 8 Film touring programme organised by Jo Comino and Larraine Porter, and The New Pluralism at the Tate Gallery (1985), also included work by Derek, Cerith Wyn Evans, Johnny Maybury, Nigel Linley etc, plus multi-screens by Anna Thew, George Saxon, Jo Comino, Steve Farrer  etc…

The 1985 Leicester International Super 8 Film Festival, opened with my triple screen SAILOR TRAILER AND THE TINKLING LAUGHTER OF LITTLE GIRLS, followed by Derek’s Super 8 blow up to 16mm, IMAGINING OCTOBER, filmed in Moscow, featuring Steve Thrower, and Toby and Daniel of ‘The Grey Organisation’ etc.

1986 on the set for ARIA, I met Adam Elliot who was ravished on the flag in LAST OF ENGLAND by a balaclava’d Steve Radmall (another Saint Martin’s student).  Adam faithfully helped me with filming ever after, till his untimely death three years ago.

On the set for The Last of England, I met Steve Thrower of Coil and Eyeball magazine fame.  Last of England reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of underground film. Steve Thrower and I were prisoners.  Richard Heslop was on camera filming hyper wide angle. Everyone was paid the same amount per day, camera, extras, actors alike.  Adam with flat top was filmed by Derek on b/w holding a flare.  I would like to have that image for my film, Dear Adam.

At the after screening party for Last of England, we did the casting for the deposition scene in Behind Closed Doors.  At the filming, Derek practically took over. It was the first and last time I ever directed a scene naked at the same time as having to do the light readings.  I was to be a female corpse being lowered upside down, down a fire escape, iconoclastically, as though off the cross.  Derek insisted the bearers should all be men, to avoid me being dropped on my head.  Derek got his own way on grounds of health and safety, and I was laid out by Richard Heslop and Martin holding my feet, and Derek and Big Steve (holding my shoulders) in supposed supplication, rather than by two men at the feet and two women at the shoulders.  Christopher Hughes was on camera.  James Mackay was burning meths in a can in front of the lens to make mirage effects.  Kenny Morris of Siouxee and the Banshees was one of the snoggers in the super 8 film light.

1988 – Derek comes out publicly about HIV on TV.

In 1991, Kiss 25 Good-bye, a full scale ‘kiss in’, was organised by Outrage, outside Bow Street Police Station, against Clause 25. Steve Farrer was filming on 35mm b/w, handheld.  My bit was to encourage the chaps to snog and light them (and warm their icy cheeks) with mag light torches in either hand, for what appeared like magical underwater lighting effects, helped by the driving snow. Derek was a star and needed no prompting for a film kiss.  He later managed to get himself arrested and spent the night in Bow Street Police Station.

Late summer.  Steve and I visited Derek in Dungeness, to see his new yellow painted extension.  Derek was listening to George Crumb in the yellow glow.  He cooked us a delicious pasta with fresh pesto from Camisa’s.  On leaving Derek gave me a handful of yellow poppy seeds for my London garden.

Summer 1993 Derek’s poppy seeds came through in my garden.

In 1993 at the launch of Blue at Camden Parkway, Alf Bold’s death was announced before the start of the film.  Stuart Marshall died the same year.  Derek was vibrant and thoroughly excited about the sound mix, kissing and warmly embracing everyone. He recognised my voice, but he could no longer see.  (Alf Bold gave me my first show at the Arsenal in Berlin.  I taught with Stuart on the Alternative Media at Chelsea.  I lost my hours after he died).

In 1994 – January, February, I toured East Germany and Berlin with my films. I returned to the Berlin Film Festival with Michael Berninger et al.  John Maybury’s REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS FAST was showing.  Derek’s death was announced by his old friend Manfred Salzgeber at the Teddy Bear Awards, at the Metropol, Nollendorfplatz.  I was with Thomas Mutke (of Network 21 days), Isaac Julien and John.  Manfred was now quite sick too.  He still frequented Tom’s bar in his leather chaps.  He said he would never forget me dancing with Kenny Morris, and sliding across the floor in that black rubber skirt.   (See Friends of Derek Jarman programme at the Atelier am Zoo, Panorama 1987).

British institutions funded production handsomely until the late nineties, but in Britain there was no active or effective push to screen and distribute underground film, which was possibly subversive.  In Europe, in particular, in Berlin,  there was less division.  Films were made to be shown.  And if there was no context to show them in, the context was found.


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