Studio blog

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

Tuesday, 05 February 2013 16:55 Written by  Tom Phillips

A Life In The Day of...


The state of play in my studio and those pseudo studios in Talfourd Road that occasionally masquerade as bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms is, as usual, complicated. The unifying feature I begin to realise is some form of recycling. Ever since I picked up a Victorian novel  (in 1966) and borrowed a postcard of Burnham On Sea (from Nancy Davies in 1968) to paint from, everything I do has seemed to involve the transmutation of source material or, as in the case of mud and hair etc., of material sources.

I write this in the kitchen which, apart from making coffee or the odd microwaved meal, is used for postcard storage and sorting and the preparation of books.  With the exception of two or three completed at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, every page of both versions of A Humument has been done in a kitchen. Around me in shoeboxes and albums is my collection of 50,000 or so vintage photo postcards of people. Slowly these are decanted into the little volumes for the Bodleian. The next categories to appear are Walls and Sport and, with Alice, I am starting to sort out the selection for Dogs (or rather, people with dogs).

In the eighties I started (and for some reason abandoned) the project of making a diary of a composite day, minute by minute by minute for 24 hours, the minutes coming from different days in different years. Perhaps urged on by my admiration for Christian Marclay’s film masterpiece The Clock, I have taken up the task again. By now the minutes can be over fifty years apart. Currently the earliest entry is for 1957 and the most recent comes of course from 2013. This book is not, like Ivan Denisovitch, A Day in the Life of but rather A Life in the Day of Myself. Of the 1440 possible entries I have finished about two thirds, gleaned both from that first attempt and from other diaries and pindownable moments from various notes. Each page features ten minutes, one of which should provoke an illustration of some mentioned work or place or person.

In another room my central activity for the past months is a painting carrying on from The Remains of the Day (see blog January 2011) shown here in painful progress. It is very near completion under a title which reminds me (as if I needed reminding) of the ever nearer approach of time's winged chariot; In the Days that Remain. More of this when it is finished with that necessary coat of varnish that will hold the whole precarious thing together.

Log in or register to post comments: