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A Quest for Identity

Quest for Identity

Six bound volumes 1970 - 2008
Bookbinders: Pella Erskine Tulloch, Jane Stables
each h226mm x w320mm x d35mm

Notes on this work

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This assemblage of envelope fronts, each torn according to a system that tends to include cropped stamps and vestigial postal information, constitutes the barest bones of a biography as I move from place to place, acquire real or fictitious honours, and am variously misrepresented and mis-spelt. E.g., in the space of three days in 1992 I received letters addressed to 'The Good Food Lover', 'The Occupier', 'Tom Phillips RA', 'Tom Phillips ARA Elect', 'T. Phillips/C35942', 'Trevor T. Phillips Esq.', 'Egregio Professore Sgr. Tom Phillips', and 'Sir Jom Phillips'. To hold a consistent identity in the face of such a barrage of approximations is a task of course that we all share. Yet it is someone's burden (the artist's) to represent the dilemma.

Thus, although you yourself undoubtedly also received a letter from the local pizza delivery firm addressed to 'The Good Food Lover', I (probably alone, and certainly unasked) take it upon myself to keep it and embody it in a work where it will perhaps gather meaning. The 'perhaps' indicates a speculative and possibly quixotic venture and therefore suitable to be delegated (or even relegated) to the attention of an artist.

It is also a job for an artist in that, although the material is universal, it cries out for a form; in this case modes by which the stuff is gathered, jettisoned, excised, ordered and shown forth. As ever the right solution will be when the result is dumb but interesting (rather than interesting but dumb). It would be difficult for instance to convey all the overtones in the case of 'The Good Food Lover' which is an example of Zen-and-the-art-of-product-promotion. It asserts a truth by accident, almost by contradiction, for the only evidence that I am not a lover of good food is the occasional lax recourse to pizzas delivered from one of a chain of outlets.