Artist in Residence 2008-09, London College of Fashion
Heather Phillipson is a British artist working with the moving image. A trained violinist and pianist with a parallel practice in poetry, Phillipson combines influences from cinema, music, literature and the visual arts with what is close at hand, undermining systems of meaning and prescribed associations. Through the deployment of ordinary objects and banal tasks, Phillipson plays with familiar forms of communication and potential misunderstandings. Works are often grounded in recognizable locations (the sitting room, the public toilets, the amusement arcade), draw on commonplace scenarios (love letters, television, overheard conversations), and call on non-professional participants (housemates, family, pets). Documentary and observation sequences are played off against fragmentary and constructed episodes. Disembodied voiceovers gesture towards documentary but depart in other directions. Spontaneous and performed images are combined in rapid montage.
The videos invent a kind of syntax, transposing literary and compositional structures into visual devices, employing rhythm, rhyme, enjambment, stanza breaks and visual puns to create frictions between meaning and non meaning, seriousness and absurdity. Her works suggest links between drawing, sound, and movement, often inventing premises to generate scenarios whose relative ordinariness is estranged by the odd circumstances of their making.
The video Head was made during Heather Phillipson’s residency at London College of Fashion in 2008. A hat turns into a line of wool. Shot in a single take inside a fixed frame, the piece constructs a stage for a kind of drawing. Head records the artist unravel the hat on her head and rewind it on her fist in a gesture that is playful and compulsive, determined and disorderly, and in which her body is directly implicated. Having nudged the destruction of the knitted hat into motion, its wearer leads the line through concentric circles with prescribed inevitability.
Education and background
- 2001 BA (Hons.) in Fine Art with Aesthetics (1st class), UWIC, UK.
- 2004 PGCert Drawing, Central St Martins University of the Arts London.
- 2008 Ph.D. in Fine Art practice, Middlesex University, London.
Heather Phillipson exhibits nationally and internationally, and has received awards, commissions and residencies. Her work has been profiled on BBC television and radio, in Artforum and Frieze. She has been awarded a place on the Virtue & Industry scheme at Picture This 2010-11, working with Mark Leckey, and is currently participating in the A-Frame Programme at the ICA, working with Adam Chodzko. She received the Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award from the Glynn Vivian Gallery in 2009. Phillipson was Artist in Residence at London College of Fashion in 2008, and is currently Artist in Residence at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Significant recent group shows include Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Liverpool Biennial and London (2008), The Jerwood Drawing Prize, London and touring (2009), FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, Paris (2009), Creekside Open (selected for an artist’s prize by Jenni Lomax, London, 2009), and the London Short Film Festival, London (2010).
- 2009 Something is Bound to Happen, Glynn Vivian Gallery, Wales, UK.
- 2009 Formal Incidents, Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion.
- 2009 PoetryFilm, Curzon Renoir cinema, London, group exhibition.
- 2009 Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space Gallery, London, and touring across the United Kingdom.
- 2009 FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, Mains d’Oeuvres, Paris, France, group exhibition.
- 2009 Creekside Open (selected by Jenni Lomax), APT Gallery, London, UK.
- 2010 If…, , g39, Cardiff, UK.
- 2010 Versuch, Hollybush Gardens, London, artist’s journal and exhibition.
- 2010 The Signature of All Things I am Here to Read, Arnolfini, Bristol, group exhibition.
- 2010 X-Ray, The Perseverance, London, group exhibition.
- 2010 London Short Film Festival, ICA, London, group exhibition.
- 2009 Heather Phillipson: Faber New Poets 3, Faber and Faber, London.
- 2009 Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, Bloodaxe, Northumberland.
Grants and awards
- 2007 Michael Donaghy Poetry Prize.
- 2008 Eric Gregory Award.
- 2009 Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award, Glynn Vivian Gallery.
- 2009 Faber New Poets Award, Faber and Faber.
- 2010 Picture This, Virtue & Industry residency, working with Mark Leckey.
- 2010 ICA, A-Frame Programme, working with Adam Chodzko.
As a poet, Heather Phillipson has read across the UK and in Europe and has been published widely in British and American magazines and anthologies. ‘Phillipson’s work is often very funny as it rebounds from one untenable erotic or intellectual position to another…sounding like the love child of Frank O’Hara and Rosemary Tonks’, (The Guardian). Her work displays ‘heroic bafflement…a humour both quirky and robust’, (TLS). Commissioners and venues in 2010 have included the British Film Institute, Oxfam, Whitechapel Gallery, Shakespeare & Co Bookshop (Paris), Bonn University (Germany), Bridlington International Poetry Festival and the Latitude Festival.