Summer 2016

Time machine

Each summer since 1973, artist Tom Phillips has taken photos of the same twenty places in his South London neighbourhood. The resulting artwork – 20 Sites n Years – is both conceptual art and social history

Every year, artist Tom Phillips follows a carefully plotted nine-mile walking route around his southeast London neighbourhood taking photographs. It is the only time he ever uses a camera, and he has been doing it since 1973. The expedition is not undertaken for sentimental reasons (although the timing has a personal connection) and it is not for a photo album. The purpose of his journey is a work of art: 20 Sites n Years. And though the work began in the pre-digital age, shot on analogue colour film, it seems made for the 21st-century art world, digitally archived with an online slideshow and now – to Phillips’s surprise – even a hashtag.


Site 5. The Marlborough pictured in 1977 and 2001. By 2013, the pub had been demolished to make way for new housing. Site 6. This site was originally the business premises of an increasingly eccentric local called Dennis Noble.
Top: Site 11. In the Camberwell housing estate. Site 15. The site named ‘Obart’ shows what began as a terrace in Wingfield Street, Peckham, half of which was demolished in 1975.


John L. Walters, Eye editor, London

Read the full version in Eye no. 92 vol. 23, 2016


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 92 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.


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