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.