Modern Nature by Derek Jarman (1991)
I sit here in the dark holding a candle that throws my divided shadow across the room and gathers my thoughts to the flame like moths.
I have not moved for many hours. Years, a lifetime, eddy past: one, two, three: into the early hours, the clock chimes. The wind is singing now.
In 1986 Derek Jarman discovered he was HIV positive and decided to make a garden at his cottage on the barren coast of Dungeness. If you haven’t been introduced to the genius of Jarman yet, this is the place to begin, as he delves into his green-fingered childhood, his time as a young gay man in the 1960s, and his renowned career as an artist, writer and film-maker.
Facing an uncertain future, he nevertheless found solace in nature, growing all manner of plants. While some perished beneath wind and sea-spray others flourished, creating brilliant, unexpected beauty in the wilderness. At the heart of Jarman’s journal is his defiant spirit and almost renaissance-like fervour for the world around him. It is at once a lament for a lost generation, and a devotion to all that is living.