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New urban pocket park inspired by artist Derek Jarman unveiled at Manchester Art Gallery

The small green space in front of the art gallery is the result of a partnership with a programme that supports older LGBTQ+ people.

A new pocket park outside Manchester Art Gallery inspired by the radical artist Derek Jarman has been opened to the public.

The small urban green space in front of the city centre cultural institution hosted a garden party so the volunteers who helped to create it could enjoy their hard work.

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The pocket park has been put together thanks to a partnership between the art gallery and a programme which helps older LGBTQ+ people.

And the green oasis is full of nods to Jarman’s life and work.

What is the Derek Jarman Pocket Park at Manchester Art Gallery?

The Derek Jarman Pocket Park is located in front of Manchester Art Gallery’s main entrance and was created by volunteers aged 50 or over from the LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Ageing programme working with gardening experts, landscape architects and gallery curators,

It was created to complement the Jarman exhibition Protest! which was on show at the gallery earlier this year.

It is full of touches which bring to mind the artist, filmmaker, activist, and gardener who died of AIDS-related illnesses aged just 52 in 1994.

The design and planting scheme references Prospect Cottage at Dungeness in Kent where Jarman lived and created an iconic garden.

The Derek Jarman Pocket Park has been officially opened. Photo: Andrew Brooks

Quotes reflecting Jarman’s work and LGBTQ+ history are dotted around the pocket park, while the yellow and black structural design emphasises the colour scheme of Jarman’s cottage.

The plants chosen include some of the volunteers’ own favourites and ones which will thrive in the urban environment, while the garden also has plants selected to encourage biodiversity and a shelter including a feature which reuses rainwater to help the flowers and shrubs thrive.

The special garden party held to celebrate the opening was put on to coincide with Pride month.

And plans are now being developed to use the new urban garden for a range of activities including masterclasses in gardening for green-fingered amateur enthusiasts, outdoor drawing classes or events which support the gallery’s health and wellbeing programme.

What has been said about the pocket park?

Coun Luthfur Rahman OBE, deputy leader at Manchester City Council, said: “The volunteers have done an amazing job in creating an oasis of green tranquillity on the doorstep of what is one of Manchester’s most popular visitor attractions. It’s the perfect addition to the gallery which is otherwise surrounded by the sights and sounds of city life

“We hope this fabulous new urban garden at the gallery will continue to grow and flourish in recognition of the living contribution to our city of our over 50s LGBT communities, as well as being a reminder and living legacy of Jarman and his peers who fought so hard for an equal and fair society for all LGBTQ+ people.”

Quotes reflecting Jarman’s work and LGBTQ+ history can be found around the pocket park. Photo: Andrew Brooks

Lawrie Roberts, Pride in Ageing manager at the LGBT Foundation, said: “It’s been an honour to work in partnership with the art gallery to open this brand-new Pocket Park, which has been designed and planted by volunteer gardeners from LGBTQ+ communities in Manchester and the city region who are of the same or similar generations to Derek Jarman.

“LGBT Foundation exists to continue to work towards an equal and fair society for all LGBTQ+ people, which is something that activists such as Jarman and his peers brought to wider public consciousness in the 80s and 90s.

“We’re delighted to be celebrating his legacy and historic links to Manchester through this project and to have created this fantastic new green space in the city centre for everyone to use and enjoy.”