Author(s): Tom Phillips
To celebrate the acquisition of the Tom Phillips archive, the Bodleian Library has asked the artist to assemble and design a series of books drawing on his themed collection of over 50,000 photographic postcards. These encompass the first half of the twentieth century, a period in which, thanks to the ever cheaper medium of photography, 'ordinary' people could afford to own their portraits. Readers shows people reading (or pretending to read) a wide variety of material from the Bible to Film Fun, either in the photographer's studio, in their own home or holidaying on the beach. This book contains 200 images chosen with the eye of a leading artist from a visually rich vein of social history. Their covers will also feature a thematically linked painting, especially created for each title, from Tom Phillips' signature work, A Humument.
'Tom Phillips has one of the greatest postcard collections in the world - the ultimate archive of British citizens from the turn of the century.' Martin Parr, photographer and postcard collector 'These images are captivating visual vignettes. We may not know who the subjects are, but the postcards offer us a glimpse of their interests, their time and their world. Tom Phillips's exceptional collection gives us a fascinating chance to retrieve something of these lives.' Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London 'These books will fascinate anyone interested in humanity or in the contrivances of image-making.' Richard Morphet, curator and postcard expert 'Picture postcards capture unique moments in time and place and are a wonderful social history record. Tom Phillips is adept at seeking out and choosing amazingly evocative postcard images.' Brian Lund, editor, Picture Postcard Monthly
"'These books will fascinate anyone interested in humanity or in the contrivances of image-making. Retrieving notionally commonplace portrait photos c. 1900-50 and grouping them by reference to supposedly merely accessory motifs they contain, Phillips reveals the ordinary as almost wondrous, its posed citizens as participants in mysterious rituals or cults. Whether bizarre, absurd, pretentious, sad or hilarious, these lost sitters are, however, presented by Phillips with the warm sympathy and open-mindedness that, reaffirming human dignity, is a hallmark of his art as a whole.' Richard Morphet, curator and postcard expert 'Tom Phillips has one of the greatest postcard collections in the world - the ultimate archive of British citizens from the turn of the century.' Martin Parr, photographer and postcard collector"
Tom Phillips CBE, RA, is a major British artist who lives and works in London. www.tomphillips.co.uk