Word Art

This is not the blog post I set about writing.  (That’s the nature of the beast, I hear you say).

In August, I visited the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition as a first-timer.  TV documentation of the selection process, exhibition preparations and the launch event didn’t come near.  I won’t gush.  Suffice it to say that I loved the juxtaposition of different styles, subjects and media against the vividly-painted walls:

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and sculptures that parted the throng of visitors as they commanded floor space (not least among them, Cork Dome, by my favourite sculptor, David Nash).

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By now, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this post – unless, of course, you’ve seen Tom Phillip’s Humument.

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This year, the artist was honoured with an entire room dedicated to what has become the work of a lifetime.

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Chancing upon W. H. Mallock’s novel, The Human Document, in 1966, Tom Phillips imposed some constraints upon his love of wordplay but admits that “serendipity is [his] best collaborator.”

Here’s the first treatment of page 33, where he began in 1966:

First version 1973

web source: http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/slideshow/1-50/item/5898-page-33

and its revised treatment in 1994:

4th Edition, 1980 - Page 1

web source: http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/slideshow/1-50/item/5898-page-33

Here’s a re-working of page 4 (2007) that stopped me in my tracks:

4th Edition, 1980 - Page 1

web source: http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/slideshow/1-50/item/5850-page-4

You can read about Humument’s origins, Phillip’s page treatments and revisions here.  You can also view the complete work as a slideshow (although there’s a lot of mouse clicking/navigation involved), including the original pages of text.

I’m still exploring…

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