Derek Jarman Valentine’s Study Day
Tags: Almost Bliss: Notes on Derek Jarman's Blue, Christopher Hauke, David Ferry, Dudley Sutton, Ed Webb-Ingall, Ideal Home, James Mackay, Jo Melvin, Joachim Koester, Jonathan Tubbs, Karen Di Franco, Patrick Staff, Peter Fillingham, Phillip Hoare, Ping Pong Dialogues: Bill Beckley, Red White and Blue: Pop Punk Politics Place, The Life Room
Consisting of a diverse range of talks, screenings, performances, and panel discussions the study day was curated by CHELSEA space’s Public Programme Co-ordinator, artist/archivist Karen Di Franco. Taking place in the context of an art school, the themes were very much tied to the notion of Jarman the artist. In his welcome speech, Director of Exhibitions Donald Smith described Jarman’s restless, mischievous and challenging personality, imploring the audience to keep their critical faculties sharpened and not to turn this Valentines Day event into a love-in!
Karen Di Franco introduced the programme and Philip Hoare opened the talks with a personal summation of the influence of his late friend. The themes of Hoare’s excellent talk can be read in his article for the Independent newspaper published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Jarman’s death on 19th February 2014.
Phillip’s talk was followed by a screening of super 8 films selected and presented by Derek Jarman’s long time producer and collaborator, James Mackay. The selection of films : Studio Bankside 1970-73 (6.5min) ; Tarot (6.5min); Sulphur 1975 (12min); Jordan’s Dance 1977 (9min); Imagining October 1984 (27min) were intended to reflect different facets of Jarman’s experimental processes. The films were stunning and a genuine revelation to the audience. James Mackay’s choice of soundtracks to these silent films was intended to echo Jarman’s informal screenings of his films for friends when he would play records to suit the mood of the audience/party . We were very pleased to see Jordan’s Dance (1977) which featured in our exhibition Red White and Blue: Pop|Punk|Politics|Place.
Lunch was followed by a screening of Joachim Koester’s 16mm films Reptile brain, or reptile body, it’s your animal, 2012 (5.36 min) and To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown necessitates an attitude of daring, but not one of recklessness (movements generated from the magical passes of Carlos Castaneda), 2009 (3.16 min) which in turn were followed by a performance by Patrick Staff.
The psychoanalyst, writer, and filmmaker Christopher Hauke presented a fascinating Jungian perspective of Jarman entitled Derek Jarman’s Super-8: image, alchemy and individuation. Christopher’s paper should be published shortly and we will keep you informed of details.
Christopher Hauke was followed by an ‘in conversation’ between artist and long-time Jarman collaborator, Peter Fillingham, and the writer, curator, and art historian Jo Melvin. In an insightful presentation they discussed Jarman’s multi-facetted art practice, and methodologies and approaches to curating his work, with particular reference to exhibitions curated by Fillingham such as the Barbican retrospective in 1996. These two are no strangers to CHELSEA space; Peter Fillingham’s work was featured in our 2011 exhibition Ideal Home whilst Jo Melvin curated Ping Pong Dialogues – Bill Beckley at CHELSEA space in 2008.
The final panel discussion, chaired by Donald Smith, started with the co-editor of Derek Jarman’s Sketchbooks, Ed Webb-Ingall, discussing the idea that Derek Jarman meant many different things to different people, quoting from his interviews for the book with Jarman’s friends and collaborators. Peter Fillingham and James Mackay gave us different perspectives of Jarman’s life and working practices and it was a great pleasure to also have the actor Dudley Sutton on the panel; he first worked with Derek Jarman on Ken Russell’s 1971 film The Devils, where Jarman famously designed the sets. Dudley explained how Derek Jarman would coax performances from actors often inventing new unscripted scenes encouraging the actors to improvise – after Sutton’s own memorable scenes as the Bishop of Winchester in Edward II Derek Jarman wrote “Dudley went further than we expected (!) , he dropped his false teeth and his pants”! Dudley has worked with us on several CHELSEA space shows including The Life Room and Don’t Do Any More Henry Henry Moore
The day ended with a drinks reception in CHELSEA space and a chance to view the exhibition Almost Bliss: Notes on Derek Jarman’s Blue
It was great to see architect Jonathan Tubbs at the study day, it was his father Ralph Tubbs’ archive that Donald Smith used in curating the show Dome: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain
It was nice also to see Robin Jenkins and David Ferry who, along with Derek Jarman, were included in our Chelsea Futurespace exhibition H2O. David Ferry also performed for our 2009 show The Life Room, David’s endurance performance became the basis for Session 3 of David Barnett’s film series Workout made for The Life Room exhibition.
A summing up of the study day will be published in the future – details later. A big thank you to everyone who contributed to this excellent event dedicated to Derek Jarman, artist.