Granite Catamarans on a Granite Wave

1994
Black, White granite
400 x 1350 x 700 cm
Edition of 1

Stephen Cox first arrived in India in 1985 and was immediately taken with the fishing boats at Mahabalipuram—boats which daily plied a hazardous course in the strong currents of the Indian Ocean. Cox acquired several of these catamarans, which he kept at his studio with the thought that one day he might be able to use them. Ten years later, the image of these vessels appeared in his sculpture. Granite Catamarans on a Granite Wave features exact replicas of the traditional wooden crafts, traditionally built from carved planks that are bound together with cord, but here carved from granite. The solution Cox found to indicate the wave was a grid of vertical columns made to varying heights. Granite from the quarries at nearby Kanchipuram was selected in two different colours: black for the boats and white for the wave. Originally sited in coastal countryside, the sculpture referred not only to a plantation with its even rows of trees, but also to the distant English Channel coastline near to Cass Sculpture Foundation, as from some angles the boats appeared to sit upon the watery horizon. The sculpture marked a new phase in Cox’s development, in which he developed an interest in sculpture as installation. Recent work has been architectural in scale and influence.

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About The Artist

Stephen Cox is perhaps best known for his monolithic sculptures and has worked prolifically in Italy, India and Egypt, implementing native materials to create contemporary formal works that echo with historical and cultural connotations.

Stephen Cox’s work is widely influenced by other cultures. Rooted in Classicism, his early sculptures are related to architecture and archaic fragments and were realised in stone from Italian quarries. In 1986, Cox represented Britain at the Sixth Indian Triennale in New Delhi. He went to Mahabalipuram—a centre for traditional Hindu carving, to make sculpture for the exhibition, and since that time has maintained a studio there. The carvings he made in granite from the ancient quarries of nearby Kanchipuram had a great bearing on his work over the next decade.

In 1988, he was commissioned to carve sculpture for the new Cairo Opera House, Egypt, and was allowed to quarry Imperial porphyry at Mons Porphyrytes in the Eastern Desert, which had not been used since the end of the Roman Empire. This led to new developments in his imagery, such as references to the human torso. In varying his treatment of the rich red and green stones, Cox developed his sculpture towards a more abstract state. In 1993, he completed a commission for the parish church of St Paul, Harringay, using Italian and Egyptian stones. His most recent work in Egypt was centred on the Kephren quarries in the Western Desert of southern Egypt.

Stephen Cox

Born: 1946

Other Artworks by Stephen Cox at CASS

2005

Lingam of a Thousand Lingams

The way in which the subject of sex and gender is addressed in religion interests Cox and Lingam of a Thousand Lingams i…

2009

Peregrine

Like its larger sculptural counterpart Grand Peregrine, this sculpture casts a slender and imposing shadow across the fo…

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