Studio blog

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

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:59 Written by  Tom Phillips

20 Sites/Obart

as trailered on Twitter...

Once more down these mean streets a man must go
(John Walters and Jake Auerbach in tow).

20 Sites is always its own adventure, a curate's egg of surprises, disappointments, frustrations and glee. This very weathery year it occupied a patchwork of sessions on adjacent days, partly to dodge rain, partly to ease knees and partly to fit in with my two companions, Jake Auerbach filming and John Walters chronicling (the beginnings of an entourage?)

In every year there is some singular redemptive moment that renews my faith in the crazy scheme so hastily concocted forty years ago. This year's epiphany was one for the age of Twitter and tweet. Reaching the somewhat glum site 15, a personless scene of council spoilage slowly re-neatening itself, we saw in a facing window a crisp notice saying '#obart'. Could this be a distant echo, such as those heard in ancient Arcady, of the large signboard saying OBART that had not been in evidence for well over thirty years and which had given 20 Sites its original name? Electronic contact provided an enigmatic addendum 'you have arrived'.

We knocked on the door and Mrs Obart emerged regretting her husband's having missed the magic assignation.

This simple gesture was as touching as if the art school had put up a banner saying 'Welcome Back Tom'. I was moved. The project's title has now been reinstated. In some special sense I had arrived: thank you Mr & Mrs Phil Wilce.


 Obart 1973

Obart 2012

obart_hashtag Photograph: John Walters

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