Gilbert McCarragher


Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House exhibition

In 2018, Gilbert McCarragher was asked to create a visual record of Prospect Cottage, the iconic Dungeness house of artist, filmmaker and gay rights activist, Derek Jarman. Situated on the austere and windswept shingle beach near the looming nuclear power station, the house and surrounding garden has become an artwork in its own right, drawing Jarman devotees and curious onlookers from around the globe.

Following the publication of McCarragher’s new book, Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House (Thames & Hudson, 2024), a new show will present a selection of McCarragher’s work from his time at the house.

Curated by Sean O’Hagan, photography and feature writer for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, McCarragher’s show can be viewed from 15-19 May 2024 at Somerset House, London, as part of Photo London.

Find out more about the exhibition.

Selected work

Alexander McQueen

As a part of the run up to the opening of McQueen’s flagship store on Old Bond Street I was asked to document the creation of the plaster panels designed for the store’s walls—panels that have since become a signature element of every McQueen store throughout the world. In a workshop in East London I patiently watched as the panels took form, evolving from a series of initial concept sketches, then bright pink latex moulds, until the moment of the great reveal when the moulds were peeled back to expose the artistry encased inside.

My work with Alexander McQueen spans several years and includes photography of the flagship store on Old Bond Street, the men’s tailoring division on Savile Row, the McQ Store on Dover Street and the ongoing ArtBox projects curated by Sadie Coles HQ at McQueen Savile Row.

John Pawson

‘Show me how you see it... Have fun with it... Surprise me... And make sure you get the shot!'

Having worked closely with the Pawson office for a number of years now, this is my usual brief from John before going on a job. Rarely do we talk about a specific shot list. Instead we talk about moods, inspirations and the relationship a building has with its surroundings.

The advantage of long-term relationships such as these is that I will have seen a building take shape across a number of years. However, having witnessed the blood, sweat and tears that go in to a particular project, I feel a personal responsibility to the architects to show their building in the best possible way. The photographs I produce are what the majority of people will see and experience: they will define what the project was all about.

Arriving on site I settle in and start a conversation with the building concerned: Who are you? How would you like to be photographed? The first few hours can be tricky, as I formulate and clarify the narrative in my head, though early starts and long exposures give me time to contemplate the space and how the building might answer my questions. Then ‘click’—I get it—and away I go.

Sevil Peach

Built for the 21st century’s growing army of freelancers and homeworkers, architect Sevil Peach’s Red Elephant and Zuidas buildings are mixed use spaces from where you can run a business while still feeling completely at home.

Sevil designed and curated the spaces to work whether you’re operating as an individual or a small or a large team. Versatile layouts accommodate modern, changeable work patterns and afford the occupants a freedom to find the space that works best for them—be that for the week, the day or even just an hour.

Not so much a workhouse as a playhouse, I looked up from my camera on the last day of my shoot to see Sevil dancing to Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’. Fitting, I felt, as the spaces Sevil has created are exactly that.

Basilica di San Giorgio

Documenting the restoration of San Giorgio was an assignment I could hardly believe I had been asked to complete. The statue, which stands atop the dome of Palladio’s magnificent Basilica di San Giorgio in Venice, had been struck by lightning a decade earlier and its badly damaged arm subsequently removed.

I ascended a complex scaffold erected in the centre of the church. As I neared the 100 foot mark, I clambered out through a small opening in the lantern of the cupola, before climbing more scaffolding on the exterior of the dome where I came face to face with San Giorgio. The first thing I noticed was what big eyes he had, his features having been heavily exaggerated to make them visible from the ground.

I watched over several weeks as the highly skilled restoration team, with funding from the Swarovski Foundation, worked like surgeons to reattach San Giorgio’s arm and spear. Every nail from the statue—labelled and numbered—was driven back into its original hole, until finally San Giorgio was complete again, proudly looking out over Venice.

Ian Schrager

I first worked with Ian Schrager’s design team when photographing the views from the apartments in their Miami Beach EDITION Hotel. Shortly thereafter the Schrager team approached me to photograph their London EDITION Hotel—a luxury boutique hotel on London’s vibrant Berners Street and the first EDITION hotel to open in Europe.


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