Studio blog

News and updates about Tom Phillips, posted by the artist himself

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 15:54 Written by  Tom Phillips

Habeas Corpus

It was a fine idea of my friend Bernard Moxham, Professor of Anatomy at the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, to celebrate with art the terminal largesse of those who donate their physical remains to science.

I eventually came up with an idea for a memorial which fits the budget and I hope does sensitive honour to their generosity. The first task had been to devise a fitting text neither too long or too official in character. After a good few tries, skating on the thin ice of the sentimental over the deep pond of banality I decided on

                                  ALIVE WE THOUGHT BEYOND OUR LIVES

                          TO GIVE OUR BODIES AS A BOOK FOR YOU TO READ

This was to be etched on veiny red marble with a surround of a stone more earthily green and organically patterned. The two marble elements to be separated by a shallow linear trench filled with bone.

I showed the watercolour design (seen here) to Matthew Nation (of Taylor Pearce) who gladly offered to help me with the technicalities with his usual skill as he had done with the Conflict Memorial in Westminster Abbey.


This week I headed for the Taylor Pearce workshop in New Cross clutching a plastic bag full of the bone fragments I had gathered (ask no questions) to be crushed into powder. Strange cargo to be carrying on a 36 bus crowded with people phoning or being phoned. Hence the tweeted couplet:-

Who is this fellow who nobody phones
on the 36 bus with a bag of bones


The whole memorial, appropriately horizontal and about as long as a modestly sized human being, is to be installed in early August on the wall of the College's dissecting room. Perhaps one day (now not too far away) I should elect to join those dedicated stiffs in the land of my fathers.

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