At first glance these works refer back to the mid 19th century; the world of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, the paintings of Henri Fantin-Latour, and further back to Holland in the 17th century and The Vanitas tradition in Western art. Yet the series is also a response to the contemporary idea that everyone is both an image-maker and a publisher, predominantly of trivia, and the question how can artists use new technology to create arresting and mesmeric images?
The prints present a series of puzzles for the viewer to resolve. They are not quite what they seem; contemporary photographs resembling antique paintings, dead subjects that are very much alive.
Employing landscape and macro-photographic techniques, up to 1,400 photographs are combined to imbue seemingly conventional still-life's with an eerie hyper-reality.
Response to the series has been remarkable, these works seem to resonate with people almost without exception. Vanitas XVI sold out at the 2016 Royal Academy Summer Show, and Phillips was nominated for the Young masters Prize 2017.