Stephen Cox RA
Interior Space: Khafre
2 m x 4.8 m x 2.4 m
‘A theme in my sculpture for many years was inspired by the Tombs of the Apis Bulls at Saqqara. These massive monolithic granite boxes fitted in with my ‘minimalist’ aesthetic, however, their power was layered with highly evocative meaning.
Contemporary industrial processing enabled me, here in Cairo, to devise a method of producing sarcophagal forms of great size that exhibited the magnificence of Egyptian stone initially from the Eastern Mountains that were the source of rare porphyry and breccia.
This new work directed at an engagement with Chephren that began some 15 years ago in a quest for the source of the stone of his famous funerary statue. The work realized here is not made with that material but with the material of his sarcophagus – granite from Aswan – found within his pyramid.
My sculpture for Forever Is Now is a personal homage that reaches for the majesty of a sarcophagus of a scale and uniqueness appropriate to this great builder.’
Stephen Cox RA (b. 1946, Bristol, UK) first made his reputation as a maker
of minimalist ’Surface’ sculptures. Austere yet shimmering, these works could not have been more ‘abstract’ and revealed his breadth of interest in sculpture, painting and architecture. In 1979, he left for Italy where he began carving
in stone, producing reliefs with architectural references. His piece, Tondo: We Must Always Turn South in red Verona marble, was acquired by the Tate Gallery. Cox continued to work in Italy for the next 5 years using as a guide the Renaissance artist and diarist Vasari’s book on ‘Technique’ which led him to explore Italian quarries. However, one stone listed by Vasari had no known
source: Imperial Porphyry, a reddish-purple stone that was the private preserve of the Roman emperors
In 1988, Cox was commissioned by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to produce a sculpture for the New Cairo Opera House. Knowing that the source of Imperial Porphyry was in the Eastern Mountains of Egypt, he set up a studio in Hurghada and proceeded with an expedition to procure stone for the project which was completed in 1989. He has continued to acquire stone from obscure Egyptian sources including Chephren Diorite from beyond
Cox has also worked in India amongst the temple carvers of Tamil Nadu for 35 years. The carving techniques there are still very much those of Egyptian antiquity but are changing quickly with increasing modernization. He lives deep in the English countryside of South Shropshire with his wife Judith.