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If I've Told You Once...

mixed media: Penguin books contained in structure
55 x 55 cm

Notes on this work

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Tom Phillips, in his Peckham studio, talks to Canadian painter/photographer Bill Hurrell, November 2004.

BH. Ten copies of What is Art? must have taken some finding. Is that the title of the piece as a whole?

TP. The books are as old as I am and the question of course is much older.I thought of calling it Ten Pelicans Look for the Truth but the repetition of the question reminded me of a nagging child and a mother’s stock reply. So I call it If I’ve Told You Once…

BH. So what’s the answer?

TP. In a way the work is both the question and the answer. D.S. MacColl the author was a director of the Tate Gallery so he must have known.

BH. Ah. Playing with fire and irony again.

TP. No I ask the question myself and like everyone else face the certainties of some of my contemporaries with doubt. It’s nice to know the question was very much in the air when I was born. I try to find out by encircling the question with the things I do, stealing up on it bit by bit.

From the introduction to the catalogue for Tom Phillips New & Recent Work Flowers East 26th November - 24th December 2004