© The Artist


Stephen Cox (1946 – )


4.9 X 4.2 X 1.2 M
Accession number
P/commissioned work


The Indian architect and RIBA gold medallist, Charles Correa, was commissioned to design a new building for the British Council in Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi. The building was formally opened in October 1992 and houses the British Council’s largest overseas operation. The five-storey building, with interior and exterior spaces flowing into one another through the use of courtyards, pillars and fountains, was designed to reflect a conceptual progression of the history of India. Read more about Correa and see plans, elevations and photographs of the building at

Stephen Cox was commissioned to create a sculpture for the garden. The work drew on the great classical tradition of Indian sculpture, but does not make any specific religious reference. It is made from black granite from quarries near the holy city of Kanchipuram and measures 4.9 metres in height, and is 4.3 metres wide and 1,2 metres deep.

The sculpture took over a year to complete, with 20 shilpies(carvers) working at Mahabalipuram where Cox had a studio and which was, during the 6th and 7th centuries, the seat of cave temple and Dravidian architecture.

Cox wrote of the work that ‘it is visible, through the central doorway, to passers-by from Kasturba Ghandi Marg and constitutes part of the perimeter wall of the building. Looking inward, a massive meditative face emerges from the matrix of the granite, and reflects above a pool, while around swirl tanmatras*. On the other side, five elements of the tanmatras look down on people passing by the rear of the building.

Its stillness and meditative nature is sympathetic to the work of the edifice to which it is attached – an educational institution, disseminator of ideas, and centre for dialogue.’

*Tanmatrasis a term for the relationship between the organs of the senses and the five elements of mater – Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether – in Samkhya cosmology.