Tom Phillips

Iris Murdoch and Ginkgo branch (photo Tom Phillips)

Dame Iris Murdoch with Ginkgo branch
photo courtesy Tom Phillips, thanks!

Oil on canvas, 80 x 55 cm
1984-1986 National Portrait Gallery
Dame Iris Murdoch was a British author and philosopher
Tom writes on his website:
"Right from the start I had wanted a 'bit of nature' to be present.....At our second sitting I made a wild guess and suggested a ginkgo, and it turned out that we were both enthusiasts for the world's oldest tree. Luckily there is a fine specimen in my own garden and towards the end of the sittings I therefore put in a ginkgo branch, painted in the manner of old botanical illustrations: I first made a separate study of it in case it might die. In the end the branch in the picture was painted directly from nature though slightly adapted to rhyme with other elements in the painting, like the collar, and the arm of Apollo."

From Tom Phillips's blogpost August 8, 2008:
"I am writing this in the nominal kitchen, an attic at the back overlooking a huge ginkgo tree which dominates the garden (a branch of which features in my portrait of Iris Murdoch). The smaller ginkgo seen here was planted in 1991 over my mother's ashes (for which, with the help of Jennifer Lee, I made a terracotta casket). "


Image © Tom Phillips 1986

Tom Phillips is an English artist whose work is fuelled by several persistent preoccupations, expressed through an even larger number of formats. These include painting (both figurative and abstract), opera (composer, librettist, set designer), concrete poetry and ornamental forms of writing, sculpture and site-specific designs (mosaic, tapestry, wire frame objects). He has also taken on several para-artistic roles critic, curator, committee chairman for the Royal Academy, translator - all of which he has folded back into his art. More info here and here.

Website Tom Phillips


Other work with Ginkgo:

A Humument Page 297 - Ginkgo leaves
by Tom Phillips:
Larger image and info click here



 © Cor Kwant - The Ginkgo Pages

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