Tom Phillips at the Williamson – January 2008

Image: Limited edition print commissioned specially for the exhibition & 2008: ‘A Humument for Birkenhead’

5th January – 17th February 2008

The European Capital of Culture year begins at the Williamson with a major exhibition of artist Tom Phillips titled Anonymous Celebrities and other works. The exhibition, which marks the 70th birthday of Tom Phillips, CBE and senior Royal Academician, surveys the recurring theme of postcards in the artist’s work from the 1970’s to the present day.

One half of the exhibition is given over to Phillips’s extraordinary collection of portrait and studio photography from the first half of the Twentieth Century, a time when everyone became a postcard as photographs became economically produced in this format. Phillips selects photographs of people about whom nothing is known and yet whose entire history can be imagined. He gathers these together under themed headings (Children in uniform, People with animals) including a special selection of Merseyside pictures.

The second half of the show explores how the postcard has served as both the source and inspiration of many of the artist’s own works.
He draws on diverse subjects from retouched flags on postcards of public buildings to the figures seated on a bench in the corner of a postcard of Battersea Park. It is from such postcard imagery that Phillips finds the heroine of an opera, a powerful anti-apartheid message, and a visual commentary on Brahms’s German Requiem as well as a major installation work. Postcards also find their way into pages from ‘A Humument’, his cult classic, a treated Victorian novel from which a limited edition print created especially for this exhibition is available.

The artist will be ‘in conversation’ before the Private View at the gallery on Friday 4th January, 6.30pm, with Patrick Wildgust, Curator of Shandy Hall, Coxwold, Yorkshire.

Dates: 5th January – 17th February 2008
Times: Tuesday – Sunday 10am-5pm

Venue: Williamson Art Gallery & Museum
Slatey Road
Birkenhead CH43 4UE
Telephone: 0151 652 4177