Tom Phillips CBE celebrates the conclusion of 50-year project: 'A Humument'

Tom Phillips CBE celebrates the conclusion of 50-year project: 'A Humument'

Fifty years after he purchased his second-hand copy of W H Mallock’s A Human Document for threepence, Catz Alum and Honorary Fellow Tom Phillips CBE RA (1957, English) has completed his long-standing literary art project A Humument. Though there have been previous editions published over the decades, this 50th anniversary edition presents, for the first time, an entirely new and complete version of the book. It also brings this half-century-long endeavour to a close.

Phillips bought the text, a Victorian novel, from Austin’s Furniture Repository in Peckham in 1966. Since then he has been transforming each page of the book, using paint, collage and cut-up techniques to tell a new story. Last month he completed the work, adding the final page to the 366 which came before.

To celebrate the final, fully revised edition of A Humument The Bodleian hosted an evening with the author and a panel of speakers including Professor of English Literature Adam Smyth from Balliol College.

Phillips’ other work includes a re-imagination of Dante’s Inferno and composing the libretto for the opera Heart of Darkness. He is also designed the tapestries which hang on the wall behind High Table in the Hall at Catz.

The full collection of pages from A Humument can be seen on his website.

Tom Phillips in conversation with Professor Adam Smyth at A Humument book launch event at the Weston Library on 14 November 2016