Born in 1937, Phillips attended drawing classes and lectures on
Renaissance iconography alongside his studies and theatre at
Oxford. Phillips was taught by Frank Auerbach at Camberwell School
of Art. Phillips's first one-man exhibition in London was in
1965 and he won a John Moores prize four years later.
Since 1966, five editions, of Phillips' A Humument: A treated
Victorian Novel, each with a number of pages reworked, have been
published, and Phillips has said the series will only be complete
when all pages of his original have themselves been revised.
Phillips has received many commissions for site-specific artworks
including tapestries for his old college in Oxford, sculpture for
the Imperial War Museum, street mosaics for his native Peckham, and
ornament and memorials for sacred spaces, including both
Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
Phillips's portrait subjects have included Samuel Beckett as well
as friends such as Iris Murdoch, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Richard
Morphet (keeper of the Tate modern collection until 1998) and the
Monty Python team.
In 1989, he became the second artist to have a retrospective of
his portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. Fifteen years
later, he also went on to curate We Are The People, at the Gallery,
an exhibition of his large collection of postcard photographic
portraits. Phillips received the Frances Williams Memorial Prize in
1983 for his illustration and new translation of Dante's Inferno.
He also made a TV version of the Inferno with Peter Greenaway which
won them jointly as directors the Italia prize.
Elected to the Royal Academy in 1984, Phillips went on to chair
the Academy's Library and its Exhibition Committee from 1995 to
2007. He also served as a trustee for the National Portrait Gallery
and British Museum. Phillips was made a Commander of the British
Empire for services to the Arts in the 2002 Birthday Honours list.
In 2005, he was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art, at the
University of Oxford, and between 2005 and 2011 he was invited as
an annual Director's Visitor to the Institute for Advanced Study in
Oxford's Bodleian Library recently took over Tom Phillips's
archive and with them he has published his postcard collection in a
series of books. Phillips's collaboration with Tarik O'Regan on an
operatic version of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, for which he
provided the libretto, was premiered at the Royal Opera House's
Linbury Theatre at the end of 2011.
For more information, please visit www.tomphillips.co.uk