Tom Phillips - Studio blog

Studio blog

Occasional news posted by the artist himself

Thursday, 31 December 2020 17:55 Written by Lucy Admin

Dr Marvin Sackner

p213 humument 2020 id2420 72

A new page of A Humument marks the death in November of Marvin Sackner. The major patron of my book and with his wife Ruth, an early dedicatee.

Marvin's daughter Sara emailed me the day after and invited me to join in a funerary zoom, which I felt should be a family occasion as with a touching address from the rabbi it proved to be as I saw in the video later. Yet I did make a guest appearance via the showing and reading of some well chosen pages from A Humument: a surprise and a moving honour.

Luckily the bulk of the Sackner collection had recently been acquired by the University of Iowa whose chief archivist Margaret Gamm soon contacted me to ask if I could write a note on my long relationship with the Sackners. This accompanies a picture of the signature work I made for their Miami home and describes how they met my work and I them, the beginning of a warm friendship for almost half a century.


Friday, 07 June 2019 16:47 Written by Tom Phillips

Vocal Constructivists perform Irma at Lumen Church

irma lumen

Can it be another performance so soon after last year at South London Gallery? Yes, as part of the celebrations of the Scratch Orchestra's fiftieth birthday…….The Vocal Constructivists will no doubt have their own take on the piece…….I look forward to seeing what it is.  Join me there.


Monday June 17th 2019

7.30 - 9.30pm

Lumen Church
88 Tavistock Place
London WC1H 9RS

Buy tickets here

Friday, 24 March 2017 18:11 Written by Tom Phillips

Connected Works

Irma print 2017 id2200 72

Irma, digital print with silkscreen 2017

To celebrate the year of my eightieth birthday (in May) I am looking forward to two events. Firstly a show at Flowers Gallery called Connected Works which has its opening on the evening of 25th May (6-8pm).

My opera Irma will have the world premiere with two performances directed by Netia Jones at the South London Gallery on September 16th and 17th. This will be the first stageing of the complete version whose score and text I finished last year. I might even be given a small role in it myself…

Meanwhile I am busy reading over a hundred novels as one of the judges of this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Sounds enough to be going on with.

Friday, 20 November 2015 18:07 Written by Tom Phillips

Essential Classics


John Cage, 1993, from The Composers series 11 x 12.5cm


Though the programme is called Essential Classics (starting Nov 30th at 10am BBC Radio 3) I have smuggled in some newish music (John Cage, Harrison Birtwistle, Terry Riley, Tarik O’Regan) and have been persuaded by the producer (Chris Barstow) to include some fragments of IRMA. Rob Cowan is the amiable host and interviewer. If you haven’t heard the wonderful Alina Ibragimova playing Bach or the late Michelangeli’s magical Scarlatti tune in to each of the five mornings.

Monday, 23 February 2015 17:04 Written by Tom Phillips

Return of the Talfourd Press!

Irma Score

Surprised by the quality Bernard Moxham achieved in the Ulysses/Humument book last year, I saw that self-publishing was now the way to make the sort of book that no commercial publisher could or would take on. Even if you only have one client an edition of one is not only feasible but almost laughably cheap to produce.

I made a sketch score of an opera, Irma, in 1969 (finishing it as man first landed on the moon). I always had in mind a full score, making it the operatic equivalent of A Humument whose source it shared. Now, forty five years later, as a cottage industry the Talfourd Press presents Irma in full, 120 pages in colour with libretto material and notated score, plus provocative instructions for director, dramaturge, designer and choreographer.

Since writing the first version I have been much involved with the opera stage as both librettist and designer. Irma in its complete form reflects that experience by providing a recipe book for a stage event; with all the ingredients of traditional opera, dance episodes, drinking chorus, mad scene, erotic enactment, and the many variations on love and death. Pipping La Scala to the post will be the forthcoming world premiere directed by Netia Jones. Details to be announced.