Encounters in Stone
Encounters in Stone situates monumental sculptures and small-scale pieces throughout the courts and gardens of Trinity Hall. Sculptor Stephen Cox RA has a deep knowledge of the stones of Italy, Egypt and India, as well as the beliefs, myths and customs they historically manifest. He combines this with his own aesthetic as a contemporary sculptor to produce thought-provoking, symbolic pieces.
This is the first time Stephen has exhibited his work in Cambridgeshire.
Sculptures in Front Court
When you enter Trinity Hall you will find yourself in Front Court. The Court is divided into four lawns. On each lawn is a sculpture linked by the stone from which they are made. The source of this green stone, Hammamat Breccia, is the Eastern Mountains of Egypt.
The quarries were used by the ancients for their funerary objects. Graffitied onto the walls of the quarries is a catalogue of information relating to the great rulers of antiquity who sent their engineers to procure blocks of this rare material from as far afield as Persia.
‘Cycladic Gemini’ in Avery Court
Turn left out of Front Court and you will arrive in Avery Court. This court is home to the new WongAvery Music Gallery and ‘Cycladic Gemini’. The sculpture, made from Egyptian Alabaster, continues the theme of ‘twinning’.
The translucent stone, from Beni Suef, symbolised the court of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. This new religion swept through Egypt, displacing the dark granite gods with fair alabaster through which the ‘light’ of the one god Aten and, in essence, the light of the Sun could pass.
Exit Avery Court the way you entered and turn left at the crossroads in Front Court. Walk through the double doors and passage in front of you.
‘Conjunction’ on The Grass Circle
On your left you will see ‘Conjunction’. Cox made this sculpture in India at Mahabalipuram where Hindu Temples and sculptures have been fashioned over the past fifteen hundred years. During the past 35 years Cox has worked with the carvers here, inspired by their traditional methods and imagery, to carve contemporary sculptures.
The stone is dolerite, which has its origins near the molten core of the Earth, the oldest stone to be expressed from the deep origins of time. It therefore seemed appropriate to use its cosmology for the ‘Conjunction’ of the Sun and the Moon. The Principle of male and female as represented in the ancient Hindu texts which sees the origin of male and female in the god Shiva as Ardanarishvara, the ‘being’ as male and female divisible and indivisible.
‘Yogini’ in the Fellows’ Garden
Opposite ‘Conjunction’ is the gate to the Fellows’ Garden. At the far end of the Garden are five sculptures made from Indian Dolerite that relate to the sect of the Yogini. Little is known of its rituals although its 64 abandoned roofless temples suggest an orientation with nature, the forest and the cosmos.
Each temple contained sixty four female figures beneath the starlit dome of heaven surrounding Shiva as Bairava the ascetic or lingam at its centre. The secrecy of the sect enabled caste to be set aside in Yogic and Tantric rituals.
Exit the Fellows’ Garden and turn left towards the river.
‘Shrouded Peregrine’ on Latham Lawn
By the large tree in the centre of Latham Lawn you will find the ‘Shrouded Peregrine’. This sculpture is made of Dhustone (Basalt or Dolerite) from the Clee Hill. This stone has strong serendipitous significance for Cox. Having worked in India for the last 35 years in this stone, he found on moving to Shropshire that Diorite was the stone core of the hill on which he now lived. Investigating further he found that it was here that three tectonic plates had collided once having been south of the equator.
‘Shrouded Peregrine’ was made in homage of Prince Arthur, the older brother of Henry VIII, and first exhibited in Cox’s exhibition, the ‘The Meaning of Stone’ in Ludlow Castle. Arthur was installed as Prince of Wales in Ludlow Castle with his young wife Catherine of Aragon. However, at the age of fifteen, this brilliant youth, died of the ‘vapours’, leaving his young wife a widow. This qualifies as one of the most significant events in English history as she married her brother in law Henry (VIII). The sculpture represents a wrapped figure on a catafalque and was exhibited in the Templer chapel where Arthur lay before procession to Worcester Cathedral.
About the artist
Stephen Cox is drawn to stones that have been set apart due to their rarity, hardness, colour and symbolism. He emerged as a leading figure in British sculpture in the early 1970s and was supported by the Arts Council of Great Britain and the British Council. His most significant collective exhibitions were at MOMA New York, and the National Gallery, London, Millennium Exhibition.
Stephen’s work has taken him around the globe. He traveled to the Eastern Mountains of Egypt to extract the ‘purple’ Porphyry from the Imperial Roman quarries. He became the first person to make sculpture in Imperial porphyry from its unique source since antiquity. In Mahabalipuram, India, Stephen worked in age-old methods to create a sculpture for the Triennale. Most recently, Stephen visited the ancient granite quarries at Aswan, Egypt. They have been producing commercially since the great obelisks and monumental statues of pharaohs were made.
Thanks to our generous supporters for helping to make this exhibition possible: Nigel Thomas, Winston Poon, Nigel Grimshaw, Bidwells and Hiscox.