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Derek Jarman commemorated with Islington People’s Plaque at start of LGBT History Month

Friends of Derek Jarman at the unveiling of his People's Plaque

Friends of Derek Jarman at the unveiling of his People's Plaque

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Islington Council today (Thursday, 1 February) unveiled a “People’s Plaque” to commemorate the life and work of much-loved artist, film director and activist Derek Jarman.

Renowned for directing films such as Sebastiane (1976), Caravaggio (1986) and The Garden (1990), Derek Jarman was also an artist, stage and costume designer, author and gardener. He was outspoken about homosexuality and an advocate for queer rights and HIV/AIDS awareness.

In a ceremony timed to coincide with the beginning of LGBT History Month, the plaque was unveiled at 60 Liverpool Road by actress and singer Toyah Willcox, a friend of Jarman’s who worked with him on the film Jubilee (1978). 

60 Liverpool Road is the site of Jarman’s former home (1967-69) in what was then a decaying Victorian house and artists’ cooperative. From his top floor studio, Jarman worked on his artwork and the stage and costume designs for both the Royal Opera House in 1967 and Sadler’s Wells Opera’s production of Don Giovanni in 1968.

Derek Jarman later became a passionate supporter of queer rights and was closely involved in the campaign to repeal clause 28 of the Local Government Bill (1987), and to lower the age of consent for homosexuals. He is especially esteemed for discussing his HIV-positive status in public, and encouraging openness about the disease.

He died in St Bartholomew's Hospital, London on 19 February 1994 of an AIDS-related illness at the age of 52.

Speakers at the unveiling ceremony included Islington Mayor Una O’Halloran, Jarman’s former partner Keith Collins, and journalist and writer Neil McKenna, a friend of Jarman’s and fellow LGBT activist.

Speaking at the event, Neil McKenna said:

“Derek’s heroism, his courage and intellectual precociousness was matched by a personality of enormous charm. He was more interested in other people than in himself.

“He brought the best out of people.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council's Executive Member for Community Development, said:

"Islington’s People’s Plaques are about celebrating the people who inspire us, our heroes – and, for many people in the Islington community, Derek Jarman was both an artist and a legend.

“Derek Jarman was an incredible artist, passionate advocate for queer rights and he courageously spoke up about HIV at a time that very few were prepared to do so.

“We’re delighted to recognise Derek Jarman with a People’s Plaque, celebrating his life, his work, and his courage.”

The plaque to Derek Jarman is an “Islington People’s Plaque” a heritage plaque erected by Islington Council commemorating significant people, places, and events in the borough, as nominated and voted on by the public.

The plaque unveiling marks the start of Islington’s LGBT History Month celebrations.  The programme includes lectures, community art projects and film screenings, in partnership with the Camden and Islington LGBT forum. For more information please see


Notes to Editors:

  • Derek Jarman’s time at 60 Liverpool Road:

Following four years of study at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, Jarman made Islington his home between 1967 and 1969 on the top floor of an artists’ co-operative at 60 Liverpool Road in a then decaying Victorian house. During the 1960s, Islington (or ‘Drizzlington’, as Jarman referred to it) was an unfashionable area, affordable to students and artists. This helped encourage a lively and creative environment and drew other writers and artists to the area, such as Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell.

The property was newly acquired by Michael Harth and had been purchased on the understanding that it was to be modernised by the friends to whom he offered rooms. Jarman’s top floor space made an ideal studio, with a smaller back room serving as his bedroom. It was from here that he worked on his artwork and the stage and costume designs for both the Royal Opera House in 1967 and Sadler’s Wells Opera’s inaugural production of Don Giovanni in their new home at the London Coliseum in 1968.

As part of our HLF funded Islington’s Pride project and LGBT History Month, the London Borough of Islington is proud to commemorate the beginning of his remarkable career with the unveiling of this Islington People’s Plaque.


For further information please contact:

Kate Robson
Senior Media Officer
Islington Council
Room G16, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD
Tel: 0207 527 8004
Out of hours mob: 07769 163303
Alternative contact: Media line 020 7527 2307
Follow us on Twitter @IslingtonBC and @IslingtonLife


Toyah Willcox unveils Derek Jarman People's Plaque

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