Each spring since 1973, artist Tom Phillips walks a nine mile circle taking photographs in 20 specific places. These photographs are taken from the same spot in the same direction with the same framing. The result is an eternal, evolving portrait of Phillips’ neighbourhood: Camberwell and Peckham.
Tom Phillips has long been one of my favourite contemporary photographers. Of all his works, one of my favourites remains his ongoing 20 Sites n Years. The photos Phillips captures is simply extraordinary; he focuses on ordinary streets and buildings, nothing grandeur, and the remarkable result is viewing specific places change gradually over the years and some so drastically.
Looking back at the first pictures from 1973 is strange in some sense, it’s an unknown world for me. I wasn’t even born back then, so looking at the photos allows me to see what a place looked like before my time.
Phillips captures nostalgia, abandonment and changes.The simplicity of Camberwell and Peckham could not have been captured more unpretentiously. We see how the street changed, street lights, cars, fashion and buildings – of course let’s not forget, the colour print of the photo.
There is a new documentary film 20 Sites n Years by Jake Auerbach which documents Phillips’ project. You can stream the film, purchase it on DVD or watch the trailer at this link.
Born in 1937, Tom Phillips, CBE R.A. is an English artist. He was born in London, where he continues to work. He is a painter, printmaker and collagist.