‘Blue of my heart
Blue of my dreams
Slow blue love
Of delphinium days’

Artist and activist Derek Jarman (1942-1994) is one of the most important and influential figures in twentieth century British culture. As an early campaigner for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and people living with HIV and AIDs, he created art that sought to challenge the normative culture and reigning neoliberal politics of his (and our) times.

Jarman’s prolific artistic practice spanned painting, film, installation, writing, set design and performance. Possibly his most enduring legacy is his garden and former home of Prospect Cottage in Dungeness—a refuge and retreat that fuelled his creativity and has become a site of pilgrimage for visitors worldwide. Jarman is perhaps best known today as a pioneer of experimental film while his fusing of art and activism is especially important in the development of many queer artistic practices.

Born Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman in Northwood, England, Jarman’s whakapapa connects to Aotearoa through his father Lancelot who was born in Canterbury in 1907. Though he never set foot in Aotearoa following his father’s return to Britain, Jarman’s familial and imaginative connection to the country is present in his writing and contributed to his love/hate relationship with a modern Britain under conservative political leadership.

This exhibition brings together rarely seen paintings and films by Jarman alongside photography and archival materials about the artist. Derek Jarman: Delphinium Days marks thirty years since the artist passed away from an AIDS-related illness at the age of 52. This is the first Aotearoa New Zealand exhibition of his work.

Derek Jarman: Delphinium Days has been co-developed by Gus Fisher Gallery and City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi. The exhibition is co-curated by Lisa Beauchamp, Curator of Contemporary Art at Gus Fisher Gallery, Aaron Lister, Senior Curator (Toi) at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, and Michael Lett.

The exhibition was made possible with the lead support of Tony Kerridge and Micheal Do, with additional support of the City Gallery Wellington Foundation, the Delphinium Days Exhibition Circle, and those who wish to remain anonymous. The Auckland public programme is brought to you by Burnett Foundation Aotearoa with additional support from the Gerrard and Marti Friedlander Charitable Trust, the Sir William & Lady Manchester Charitable Trust and cinema partners, The Capitol Cinema. With thanks to the Keith Collins Will Trust and Amanda Wilkinson, London. Films courtesy of LUMA Foundation and James Mackay.

Derek Jarman: Delphinium Days will be presented at The Dowse Art Museum in partnership with City Gallery Wellington 28 September – 26 January 2025.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm
  • Saturday, 10am – 4pm
  • Monday & Sunday closed


  • Level 4, The Kenneth Myers Centre
  • 74 Shortland St
  • Auckland, 1010