Phill Hopkins | A House Within A Home

Lion Mask | Phill Hopkins (2019)

Phill Hopkins, a graduate of Goldsmith’s in the 1980’s and whose work can be found in many collections including the Leeds Collection, is a regular contributor to the programme here at BasementArtsProject. ‘House Within a Home’ will see him scaling up some sculptural forms from previous work and merging them with elements of his current practice, which will also involve an integrated audio work, creating an immersive installation filling the entire basement. Working at such a miniature scale as he has in the past, Hopkin’s work invites us to think about the human scale of world events and how these impact upon our perception of the world. For ‘House Within a Home’ Hopkins will be bringing the exterior indoors and reversing the notion of a home being built within a house, thereby emphasising the distinction between the house and the home.  

Untitled (House, Box and Sand) (2011) | Phill Hopkins. Photo Tim Balls

An Interview . . .

BD: Phill, It is roughly a decade since we first met, in my time as Arts Administrator at Holy Trinity Church on Boar Lane. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your artistic background up to this point?

PH: Ha! You had a proper Mohican then. It was a time when I was trying to get back into making again. I had been teaching full-time and running a big programme of courses for adults experiencing mental health problems and then running an arts centre for adults with learning disabilities. Behind this was my own grey cloud of mental ill health. Although I have always made drawings, I was finding it difficult to find my way again, find my visual voice. Ten years before this I was very productive, lots of work and lots of shows. When I look at my cv from this period it’s hard to remember that I did all that. I then had to deal with being discouraged and horrible life events, so I stopped making things. I spent time designing gardens, which involved a lot of drawing, handling of materials and making and I suppose I rediscovered myself. When I met you I had just had a show, ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ at Greenbelt Festival, which was a big body of work and included a performance piece. I really had to reinvent myself.

BD: Oh yeah the mohawk; I had forgotten about that. That does seem like a long time ago. At that point when I first met you your practice was still most definitely sculptural but shortly after it seemed to morph into drawing, and I do not use that word lightly as I know how you feel about referring to it as painting, yet many people will naturally refer to it as that. What criteria is it that you use to draw that distinction between drawing and painting? 

PH: I always thought of myself as a sculptor. Things were very simple for me. I have always drawn and have always made things. When my drawings began to cross the border into paintings, I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of making paintings. I was never any good at painting, so that’s why I was a sculptor. If I’m forced, I will say that they are paintings, but I feel that I’ll be found out. My drawings seemed to stray into painting, that is, I started colouring-in the empty bits between the lines. When i use paint, I do so in a very physical way. By ‘physical’ I don’t mean getting all Jackson Pollock and throwing it around (not that he really did that), I mean a real physical connection to the paint as matter, its thickness, its drippiness, its stickiness. Painters will use the term ‘painterly’, so I don’t think I’m doing anything new, its just about being at ease with what I am. 

Untitled (2012) | Phill Hopkins. Photo: Bruce Davies

The Process . . .

Phill Hopkins in the studio

Phill Hopkins in the studio


With support from Index Festival