19 June 2012

"Women's work"

Women's Work (paper on cloth; photo from here)
Tom Phillips' quilt, shown at the RA Summer Exhibition in 1997, produced an ironic comment from art critic Brian Sewell: he singled it out in the Evening Standard as an object more appropriate to a women's institute than an art gallery, "thereby giving it some credentials of success," says the artist (read the rest of his statement on the work here).
the silkscreen version (photo from here)
The historical connection between seamstresses and prostitutes informs the work - as does the moment in time when he formed his collection of these "calling cards". In the 1980s and 90s the phone booths abounded with these colourful scraps. The cards, as well as the phone booths themselves, seem to have more or less disappeared - or have the phone booths just got rarer and the cards more colourful?
glossy cards sprang up in the mid-nineties (photo from here)
Philips said in his 1999 essay on "tart art":  "As a result of a typically British act of backfiring censorship, a busy folk art arose with its own chapbook-like style of design and typography and its own verbal code."


"The drive for good studio economics" (and the stealth bomber's "irony of aesthetics") led to the cards that weren't used in Women's Work being used in Manpower:





1 comment:

Celia said...

Thanks for showing me that Tom Phillips has done more than A Humument - and what great stuff it is!