Born in Napier, New Zealand, Phil is a Fine Arts graduate in sculpture from the University of Auckland/Elam School of Fine Arts, plus holds a Master of Arts with honours from Nepean, West Sydney University. In 1968/69, while still studying for his fine arts degree, it was Phil's experience, as a member of the foundation group for Scratch Orchestra (London) that galvanised his intermedia approach to art and music making. Back home in 1970 he founded Scratch Orchestra (NZ) and later, in 1974, the music/performance group From Scratch, which subsequently performed to wide acclaim in New Zealand and overseas. Phil retired from his position as senior lecturer and head of Intermedia at Elam, at the end of 2001, and now devotes his energies, full time, to his own work.
Since 1990 he has received many major awards and commissions including a Fullbright travel award to the USA, and research, exhibition and performance grants to Canada, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hungary, Austria, UK, India and Argentina.
Since receiving his Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2001, Phil participated in REV (real, electronic, virtual) Festival in Brisbane; has undertaken various commissions; NZ String Quartet, 175 East and Connells Bay Sculpture Park; took up an Artist-to-Antarctica fellowship (2003), made a project at the school of new media arts in association with ZKM, Karlsruhe, hada video showing at the World Wide Video Festival in Amsterdam.
His series titled SOUND TRACKS, and exhibited Tapping the Pulse; video and film works from 1971-2004 at The Film Archive, Wellington. In 2005 he exhibited Polar Projects, a body of video/sound work derived from his Antarctic experience, at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery; an exhibition which has since been shown at various galleries around the country. He received an ONZM in the 2005 Queens Birthday Honours.
In 2006 he was a finalist in the Walter's Prize, hosted by the Auckland Art Gallery, was featured in a survey exhibition at St Paul's St gallery, and his sound-sculpture TENANTENNAE was launched at the Connells Bay Sculpture Park on Waiheke Island. At the end of 2007 Phil took up an artist residency at Sanskriti in India, with the support of Creative New Zealand.
Phil has co-authored Slap Tubes and other Plosive Instruments- a DIY guide to building a variety of slap tube instruments, and the latest in a series on instrument making from EMI (Experimental Musical Instruments) USA. A collaboration with Atoll Records, has seen the release of the S3D (experimental instrument builder/performer festival) recordings on CD/DVD.
In 2008 Phil participated in Mutref sur Polar in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An international exhibition of artists who have made projects in Antarctica.
Phil set sail again around the globe in 2009 with performances at Sarajevo Winter Festival (Nine Dragon Heads) and at the National Hermitage Museum & Centre for Contemporary Art, St Petersburg, Russia (Sonic Self). Phil's Bodytok (human instrument archive) was also featured as one of three video installations during World Music Days in Beijing.
In 2010 Urban Divas, a collaboration with Choreographer Carol Brown and ten dancers - ‘a roving chorus of street angels'- took to the streets of Auckland and Wellington. Phil performed alongside Richard Nunns and Sazi Dalumni in Latitude 35 degrees project in South Africa in May 2010.
In 2011, Phil participated in the Kermadec Ocean project, curated by Gregory O'Brien, in support of a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. Phil joined a number of artists voyaging on the HMNZS Otago to Raoul Island and onto Tonga Tapu. An exhibition is scheduled for November 2011 at the Tauranga Art Gallery- the closest gallery to the line of the Kermadecs and the Tonga Trench.
Phil has a family of four daughters and lives in Auckland with his wife Camilla.