Antithesis of Sarcophagi

The Antithesis of Sarcophagi is a thought provoking garden planted inside a granite sculpture, and offers a glimpse of a world that has been turned upside down. The garden is about the antithesis between civilization and nature, and desolation versus new life.

The internal garden itself depicts woodland that is in the process of being regenerated. It is planted inside a 44 tonne block of rough granite which has been inscripted with a mysterious language on one face by Martin Cook and Gary Breeze (the garden’s designers). The granite block sits in a stark ash-charred setting, and the garden can only be viewed through fissures in the granite.  


Antithesis of Sarcophagi was exhibited at RHS Chelsea in 2016 where it won a Gold Medal and Best Fresh Garden.

In June 2017 the garden will take pride of place at the inauguaral RHS Chatsworth House Flower Show as part of the show's Freeform garden section.

In it’s new setting, The Antithesis of Sarcophagi will be used to help Chatsworth visitors explore the beauty and majestic nature of natural stone sculptures. The garden will be installed within the grounds of the Chatsworth estate for at least a year, and may well take visitors on a voyage of dis-covery around the grounds before being auctioned as a work of public art.

Martin Cook, one of the designers and sculptors of the garden, commented:  “In its new setting, the Antithesis of Sarcophagi is perfectly poised to showcase natural stone in all its many guises.There is a wonderful juxtaposition between the piece and Chatsworth House itself. The sculpture that Gary and I created is seemingly from the outside a hard lump of granite; but one with many hidden depths. Whereas Chatsworth House, conceived in the 16th Century, uses natural stone  to create a wonderful, lavish exterior - designed to create the ultimate first impression in Tudor society.” 

The granite for the sculpture was sourced in August 2015 from Portugal; with both Martin and Gary accompanying The Marble & Granite Centre’s Stephen Pike on a trip to the quarry to source the stone.

“When Martin, Gary and I first discussed the sculpture, we hardly dared believe it would become so popular, added Stephen Pike, Managing Director of The Marble & Granite Centre Ltd. “It has taken on a life of it’s own, and we are thrilled that the Antithesis of Sarcophagi will now feature at RHS Chatsworth. More and more garden and art lovers are getting the opportunity to see natural stone for what it is - a beautiful, majestic and versatile natural material.”

Designers: Martin Cook and Gary Breeze

Date of Completion: May 2016

Exhibited: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 and RHS Chatsworth 2017