Mourning for an English artist who was also a composer

Mourning for an English artist who was also a composer


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2022

The multidisciplinary artist Tom Phillips died peacefully yesterday at his studio in Peckham, South London, at the age of 85.

A Royal Academician who was best known for long-running projects. of which the longest was A Humument, adapted from a Victorian novel. But he was always an active musician, working with the likes of Brian Eno, Howard Skempton and Harrison Birtwistle, and singing Brahms in spare moments. His visual works include a suite of paintings titled Ein Deutsches Requiem: After Brahms.

He composed an opera, Irma, and many small pieces, some of which were collected on a 1992 Largo recording.

Tom was a polymath, a fine writer, and a true original.

He was married for the last 27 years to the music critic Fiona Maddocks.

May he rest in peace.


  • Simon Holt says:

    Another great original gone! Sad news indeed. ‘The Humument’ was the first book I read when I came down to live in London in August 1982. Vivid experience. His Iris Murdoch portraits are completely stunning. Well worth a viewing as soon as you can!

  • Tatoj says:

    How very sad. I saw his one-act opera, Irma, at the South London Gallery in 2017 and enjoyed it very much. He was truly brilliant. Rest peacefully, Mr. Phillips.

  • Simon Holt says:

    A Humument.

  • TG says:

    So, so sad to hear this news.
    I have loved Tom’s work since I first discovered it in the late 1980s.
    And he generously granted me permission to use one of his drawings as the focal point for an arts event in London just a few weeks ago!
    He was truly one of the very best.