Studio blog

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

Tom Phillips - February 2013
Monday, 25 February 2013 14:10 Written by Tom Phillips

Confessions of a Serial Recyclist

In The Days That Remain

In The Days That Remain, recycled palette collage, 2013

I have already made in blogs above (5.2.13 & 21.1.11) what might be thought the sufficient confession of a serial recycler: yet I must ask the jury to take into consideration one further and extreme instance.

Cutting up the palette mixings for The Remains of the Day and its sequel In The Days That Remain (seen here in its finished state) created its own waste in the form of trimmings; the edges and corners scalpelled off in the process. These become imprisoned in the drying pools of the resin I use in applying the fragments to their panels.

When fully dry these puddled mixtures of resin and paint can themselves be lifted from the saucers that hold them and may in their turn be applied to another surface.

Lurking unloved in a corner of the studio I found the ideal partner in the form of an unfinished painting, a failed drip/stripe work of the seventies. Each day’s waste now finds its way onto this now recycled canvas, one kind of aleatory accident making an almost musical counterpoint to the other; a staccato texture above the lyrical progression. So far (see below) it seems to be working. When it is done I shall perhaps be able to rest my case.


Recycled Canvas

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.