Derek Jarman: A Biography Hardcover – 1 Oct 2000
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Biographies undertaken by acquaintances of the subject can so assault the senses with over-preened apologia that one would be forgiven for chomping on lemons to counter the gooiness. Tony Peake, former literary agent of Derek Jarman, proves an honourable exception, for in this oddly conventional yet superb account of an anything but conventional life, he remembers with discerning clarity the maverick talent and the talented maverick. As Betts, Jarman's mother, confided to her husband, "I'm so glad our children haven't grown up normal. They're so much more interesting than their friends." Jarman came to be known as much for going public on being HIV-positive and for the subsequent campaigning work he did for AIDS awareness and the militant gay group "Outrage". His homosexuality certainly informed his art, though for many it may also have obstructed it--but that would be a criticism of the artist, not the man. He came to film relatively late; painting was perhaps his first love (he was short listed for the 1986 Turner Prize), certainly staying with him as a constant form of expression until his final days, and he was also a prolific writer, with several volumes of autobiography and journals published, and a final one due to appear in early 2000. If mythology informed his art, it also shaped his life and Peake shows redoubtable resolution in trying to pin down the facts in the face of constant re-invention and artistic licence. Jarman was an original film-maker, perhaps not great, but always searchingly imaginative, and if his films show flaws, the charge can never be laid that they lack ambition and vision, something conspicuously absent from the work of so many of his British contemporaries. His later works, made in the shadow of his personal sword of Damocles, are steeped in unavoidable poignancy, stripped of the eager rawness of the youthful Jubilee and The Tempest. And always behind the artifice and polemic lay a gentle, warm man, devoted to his gardening, a constant that spanned his life. Where others may plunder, Tony Peake has crafted an intimate, sensitive account, unafraid of home truths, yet commendably slow to judge; he shows the seams, but wisely doesn't remark on the stitch work. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"That Jarman lived and died on the cutting edge of contemporary culture is central to the thesis of Tony Peake s monumentally well researched and fittingly respectful biography of this multifaceted personality. Peake . . . is his subject s perfect biographer." "The Times" (London)"
"Outstanding . . . the thoroughgoing life story that this experimental director and gay rights crusader deserves." "Financial Times""
"This is a superbly written biography, both evocative and gritty, as much a social history of postwar Britain as a life of an artist." "Irish Independent"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.