Tom Phillips: Running on Empty
Art Gallery of South Australia
27 July – 31 October 2024

Guildhouse, the Art Gallery of South Australian and the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation are thrilled to present Tom Phillips: Running on Empty, an outcome of The Guildhouse Fellowship. 

Tom Phillips, paints from a place of personal experience, highlighting issues of social justice and capturing everyday experiences of loneliness, alienation, vulnerability and hardship. The subjects of his figurative paintings are often naked or stripped bare, set in domestic, urban and post-industrial surroundings and built up in gestural layers of oil paint and oil pastels. In 2021, Phillips was the recipient of the SALA Festival Don Dunstan Foundation Award, and in 2022 is featured in SALA’s 25th anniversary exhibition, SILVER, at Queen’s Theatre.

The Guildhouse Fellowship was inaugurated in 2019 with the generous support of leading philanthropists, the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation, to recognise and elevate South Australian artistic ambition and is presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of South Australia. 

I see myself as a paint brush warrior and social commentator. As an artist, I believe art should say something about the world that we live in. The Guildhouse Fellowship will change my life; giving me the opportunity to further develop my painting technique and explore new subject matter, to work with curators and the Art Gallery of South Australia, and most importantly allow me to become a full-time painter which has not been possible until now. I can now call myself an artist.

Tom Phillips

2022 Guildhouse Fellow


Tom Phillips is an Adelaide-based contemporary artist with a practice spanning more than 25 years. Graduating from Adelaide Central School of Art with an Advanced Diploma of Visual Arts in 1997, he has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions nationally since that time.  

Phillips was awarded the Limber Up Mentorship through Guildhouse in 2017, mentored by esteemed Australian artist Stewart MacFarlane. In 2019 he was Artist in Residence as part of the Sauerbier House Culture Exchange and in 2021 was recipient of the SALA Festival Don Dunstan Foundation Award.  

Recent solo exhibitions include The Urban Jungle, Barossa Regional Gallery, Tanunda (2022); Another Day, Another Lonely Night, The Main Gallery, Adelaide (2021); Everyone has a story to tell, Sauerbier House, Noarlunga (2019); Dystopia, Broken Hill Regional Gallery, Broken Hill (2019); Suburban Castaway, Praxis Artspace, Bowden (2018); Between the Clock and Bed, Walkway Gallery, Bordertown (2017) and Bosz Gallery, Brisbane (2016). 

He was selected as a finalist in the Fleurieu Art Prize (2018); The Advertiser Contemporary Art Prize, SALA Festival (2017, 2015, 2014); Kilgour Prize, Newcastle Art Gallery (2017, 2015, 2014); Naked and Nude Art Prize, Manning Regional Art Gallery (2015, 2013, 2011); Muswellbrook Art Prize (2017, 2011); Whyalla Art Prize (2017, 2015, 2013, 2011); Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Caloundra Regional Gallery, (2015) and the 38th Alice Prize (2014). 

Phillips’ works are held in private and public collections in Australia and New Zealand. 

Images (L-R): Tom Phillips, In the Studio, 2023, photograph Lana Adams; Tom Phillips, untitled 2, Ink, gouache and pastel on paper, 100cm x 70cm, 2020. Image courtesy the artist.