Published: 06:00, 23 October 2020
| Updated: 10:02, 18 November 2020
Bond star Ben Whishaw will read from filmmaker Derek Jarman's diaries as the centrepiece to a festival in the county this week.
Best known for playing Q in the Bond films Skyfall and Spectre - and No Time to Die due out next year - the actor will perform extracts of Jarman's modern Nature at the filmmaker's home, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness for the new Autumn Reads festival.
The four-day festival from Thursday, November 19 to Sunday, November 22, replaces the Creative Folkestone Book Festival, which has been postponed until next June.
Ben's filmed presentation of the artist's 1989 and 1990 diaries in the cottage on Romney Marsh will be set to music composed over the same period.
They include New York avant garde composer John Zorn’s The Dead Man - 13 Specimen for String Quartet and Polish contemporary classical composer Henry Gorecki’s Good Night Op 63. The 70-minute event will see Ben making his way through the cottage as daytime turns to dusk.
In April, Prospect Cottage and its renowned garden were saved for the nation following a major fundraising campaign led by Art Fund which saw more than 8,100 public donations alongside funding from trusts and foundations.
Modern Nature is an enduringly resonant collection of diary entries made by Jarman after he moved to Prospect Cottage, having been diagnosed HIV Positive. Facing an uncertain future, he made Dungeness his home and created a garden in the unforgiving landscape, recording his thoughts and his memories of London’s art scene in the 1960s and 1970s in the diaries.
Autumn Reads aims to bring people together over the love of books and the joy of reading, but focusing on a single title.
Alastair Upton, chief executive of Creative Folkestone, said: "The rescue of Prospect Cottage was one of the highs of a year that hasn’t boasted many; with Autumn Reads we hope to provide some more. Bringing live performance into Derek Jarman’s home will be a special moment and the
combination of his words, Zorn’s spiky, unsettling music and Gorecki’s beautiful, elegiac work will create a special atmosphere inside the cottage. The Folkestone Book Festival will return next year in all its glory, until then we are excited to be celebrating Derek Jarman’s life and work at a location that was of such significance to him.”
Autumn Reads is curated by Seán Doran and Liam Browne of Arts Over Borders, whose Strange Concords concept was a feature of last year’s Folkestone Book Festival.
Seán said: "On the 30th anniversary of the publication of Modern Nature, this profoundly moving book feels more vital than ever. Just as the garden at Prospect Cottage brought deep consolation to Jarman, so his descriptions of the joy of gardening and the restorative beauty of nature have consoled and inspired many readers over the years."
The performance by acclaimed actor Ben, who also played John Keats in Bright Star, and voiced the title character in the Paddington films, will be free to view on Saturday, November 21 at creativefolkestone.org.uk (and then will stream until December 21).
Strange Concord: Music and Words from Prospect Cottage is produced by Creative Folkestone and Screen South and broadcast by The Space. Find out more here.