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Toyah unveils plaque to ‘Jubilee’ film director and LGBT activist Derek Jarman

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02 February, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

At the ceremony, from left: Neil McKenna, Keith Collins, Islington mayor Cllr Una O’Halloran, Toyah Willcox, Maggi Hambling and Jenny Runacre, who starred in Jubilee

A PLAQUE has been unveiled marking the former residence of the artist, film director and activist Derek Jarman.
An outspoken campaigner for gay rights and HIV/Aids aware­ness, Jarman is renowned for directing films such as Sebastiane in 1976 and Jubilee in 1978, now adapted into a stage play.

Actress and singer Toyah Willcox, who made her screen debut in the original Jubilee film 40 years ago, was given the honours of unveiling the plaque yesterday (Thursday) at 60 Liverpool Road, where Jarman lived from 1967-69.

Toyah told the Tribune: “In the past 50 years gay politics has come along in leaps and bounds. It has developed into gender fluidity and trans fluidity which weren’t so defined or certainly weren’t public 40 years ago.

“All of us flourish in good, strong communities and one of the blessings of Derek’s life was he had a good community around him. But, it had to be a secret community because of the restrictions on being openly gay back then. What Jubilee addresses today is Derek’s collage of images, colours and ideas but the politics are brought up to date by young actors who are gender fluid and know what it’s like to live in a straight cis world.”

Derek Jarman: ‘Loyal and endlessly fascinating’

Toyah was introduced to Jarman when she was 18 by the stage and film actor Ian Charleson, who played leads in Guys and Dolls, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Hamlet.

Toyah said: “We had tea and Derek handed me a script for Jubilee and said ‘pick a role’. It was just like that. He didn’t audition me, he didn’t know me. He saw people immed­iately. He saw potential which I think made him very special.” She described Derek as a “wonderful” friend and said: “He was one of the best friends I ever had. He was loyal and endlessly fascinating. I could sit down with him and talk for hours and it was always incredibly creative and rewarding.”

Journalist and author Neil McKenna said: “I knew Derek primarily as an activist and also as a friend.” He added: “In 1971 I went on a protest against the Guardian newspaper in Farringdon Road which was then a very homophobic newspaper, surprising as it may seem today. Afterwards we went and had coffee and talked about doing a statue to Oscar Wilde, an idea he enthusiastically took on and which Maggi Hambling, who is here today, made a reality.”

Mark Aston, local history manager at the Islington Heritage Service, said: “Today ties in nicely with LGBT History Month. It also would have been Derek’s birthday yesterday too!”

• Jubilee is at the Lyric Hammer­smith from February 15-March 10,

Celebrating a degree of coincidence!

Debbie and Bridie on graduation day

A mother and daughter shared a special day together, graduating with their Masters degrees from City University on the same day. Last week, Debbie Pearson was awarded an MSc in Charity Marketing and Fundraising and her daughter, Bridie Pearson-Jones, was awarded with an MA in International Journalism. They shared their proud moment at a ceremony at the Barbican.

Debbie said: “It is an amazing coincidence that we have got to do this on the same day, as it was completely out of our control. Bridie has wanted to be a journalist since she was eight, in that time she also wanted to be on Blue Peter, and then Hollywood News. She was also selected as a student to interview David Cameron with the BBC. So to see her collect her MA and go into her trainee role at a national news­paper is an extremely proud moment for me and a great day for the family.”

Bridie said: “I am really proud of my mum, as she has had to balance her career and education while looking after me and my brother. It felt good to watch her take the stage, she did not trip and she may have even stolen my thunder! Not many people get to see their parents graduate, as it is usually the other way round, so this is a special moment for us. She has been there for me throughout all the stress of my A-levels, undergraduate degree and now my Masters and I could not have done this without her support.”


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