Antithesis of Sarcophagi at Chatsworth House

Visitors to Chatsworth House’s impressive gardens this year may well have noticed something a little out of the ordinary.

The 105 acre Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire has been home to ‘The Antithesis of Sarcophagi’, a unique sculpture. At first glance it is a 44 tonne granite cube with a mysterious inscription and some intriguing carved holes. On closer inspection, through the carefully placed peepholes, is in fact an inside-out garden, lavishly planted as a woodland scene, and representing a world turned in on itself.

Antithesis of Sarcophagi is the brainchild of stone carvers and artists Gary Breeze and Martin Cook, who originally designed it for the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where it won both a Gold and Best Fresh Garden. The garden continues to be sponsored by The Marble & Granite Centre Ltd - one of the UK’s largest stone wholesalers - whose Managing Director Stephen Pike is a long-time friend and supporter of Martin Cook and his work.

The sculpture was originally installed in Chatsworth’s grounds back in June, as part of the inagural RHS Chatsworth House Flower Show, but has proven to be so popular that it will remain on the Estate until 2018. It has been taken under the wing of the Chatsworth House gardening team - including talented apprentices - who are now responsible for ensuring its upkeep and re-planting it to reflect each season.

“To create a garden for Chelsea is always a great feeling,” commented Martin Cook. “But to have been part of a garden that keeps on living and in different locations has been amazing. We’ve loved seeing the garden take on different forms under a new and exciting team, and it’s great to know that it’s being enjoyed by increasingly diverse audiences.”

You can view The Antithesis of Sarcophagi at Chatsworth House until the end of 2018, and the sculpture is also available to purchase. 

Designers: Martin Cook and Gary Breeze

Date of Completion: May 2016

Exhibited: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 and RHS Chatsworth 2017