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Trailer / Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips RA

RA Collection: Book

Record number




Düsseldorf; Reykjavik; London: Edition Hansjörg Mayer, 1971

Physical Description

75 p. : ill. ; 16 cm.

General Note

“`A Trailer’, ironically, appears after the main feature has started. `A Humument’, of which it is an offshoot, is already, in its published version (Tetrad Press, London), at volume 3. However, despite this accident of publication planning, this present title is formally correct since `A Trailer’ does contain splintered highlights and fragmentary glimpses of the longer work: it is a black and white digest of a technicolour original. `A Humument’ (begun December 27th 1966) is a treated version of a Victorian novel, `a human document’ (by W. H. Mallock, published in 1892 by Chapman Hall) chanced upon (on a shopping trip October 13th 1966 with R.B. Kitaj) in a furniture repository which stands where Blake saw his first angels (Peckham Rye) and whose site may have been passed by Van Gogh on one of his walks to Lewisham.

As well as this complete page-by-intact-page version of Mallock’s novel, a second copy (purchased later at the subsidiary branch of the same furniture depository was broken and cut up to make a series of fragments as self-sufficient pictures (118 in all. 17th January 1969 to 17th January 1971). The sweepings and clippings of this second copy have been used to make up `A Trailer’, together with some rescued parts of rejected pages of A Humument (non-wastage principle). All work on A Humument and allied material has been done in the evenings (that I might not, had the work become a folly, regret wasted days): `A Trailer` was assembled in the evenings between February 1st and March 1st 1970. Some of the pages correspond closely to pages of `A Humument’ itself (p. 2, 6, 18, 21, 26) although most of the work consists of variations of wording and drawing, and pieces that do not occur at all in the full version or even could not (by virtue of their already having been obliterated). `A Trailer’ has also given me a chance (for instance in p. 8, dedicated to Christian Wolff the composer, and referring to his piece `Stone’) to catch up on some lost opportunities in my initial working of the text. It has also enabled me to rescue from oblivion some other by-products of A Humument (notably pp. 7 and 29 which together formed part of a cover, rejected by the London Magazine). Although p. 75 is manifestly the end, the book has no real sequence only a preferred order mainly based on the visual elements. However, there is a mood pattern in addition to the visual structure and the book is meant to be considered as a self-contained work.” [Preface]

Copy Note

Printed in an edition of 500 numbered and 26 signed and lettered from a to z. Copy No. 227.

Name as Subject


Illustrated books
Artist's book