Perhaps it should not come as a surprise to learn that alongside his well known fifty year project A Humument, Tom Phillips has been intermittently at work on the transformation of another dust gathering volume from the same shelves of second hand bookshops. Humbert Wolfe’s Cursory Rhymes published in 1927, which Phillips describes as a gathering of flimsy verse weakly illustrated by Albert Rutherston. This offered a perfect canvas for creative intervention. He acquired over a dozen copies for use at lunchtime or when travelling or at tedious meetings, or when watching cricket as well as being to hand in the studio. Eventually these became free for all sketchbook/diaries providing a portrait of the artist’s life.

Humbert both chimes and contrasts with A Humument, most clearly in the way that Phillips approaches the space on the page. The dense prose of A Human Document invited a mining operation to find hidden poetry that called for decoration or illustration whereas Wolfe’s short poems offered large open areas ideal for creative play and disruption. Their short texts nevertheless yielded the occasional gem.

Over the long vigil of the covid pandemic Phillips distilled from the thousand or so pages he had used this selection of characteristic examples to indicate a variety of processes from completed collages to sprawling ideas for works in progress. Alice Wood worked closely with him and Joe Whitlock Blundell oversaw the production and design of the sumptuous binding.

The finished volume is published on 8th September 2022 by Talfourd Press, in association with Blundell Studios. The edition is limited to 175 numbered copies, signed by the artist, and 16 lettered copies Hors de Commerce. ORDER HERE