E.B. COX RCA, OSA, SSC (1914-2003)
Elford Bradley Cox (AKA: E.B. Cox) was a sculptor. He was born in Botha, Alberta, Canada and died in Toronto, Ontario where he lived and worked most of his life. He also lived in Bowmanville, Ontario (1921) and Palgrave, Ontario (1950), both within 50 miles of Toronto.
His mediums include limestone, marble, alabaster, wood, precious and semi-precious stones, porcelain, bronze, copper and steel. His subjects are animals (especially bears), Greek mythology, portraits, figures, torsos, heads, faces and semi abstract. His primary style is Realism. His work is influenced by Henry Moore, (whom he knew), and First Nations (Indian) art.
Much of his best known works are monumental sculptures commissioned by governments, corporations and organizations. The city of Toronto and its environs, for example, have well over two dozen of his works in public spaces. He also had the unique honor of sculpting the tombstones for six of the members of Canada’s Group of Seven artists (see AskART glossary). *
While he used the traditional tools of a sculptor, hammer and chisel, he was also an innovator in the use of the compressed-air chisel for sculpting. It became his primary tool and a reason for his prolific single-handed output of large pieces. He worked without preliminary drawings. Quote: “You have this dream image, a concept, in your mind. And then, as you work, you’ll change that concept, if the wood or stone doesn’t accept it…You can’t do with the stone what isn’t there. ” – E.B.Cox.
Cox graduated with a B.A. degree in languages from the University of Toronto (1934 -1938); and taught language at Upper Canada College (preparatory school) from 1939 to 1950. He is considered self taught as an artist. However, while at university he did belong to an art club run by Carl Schaefer and attended some lectures by Barker Fairley (see both in AskART). He also associated with A.Y. Jackson, Fred Varley, Arthur Lismer and John A. Hall (see all in AskART).
His travels in the 1960’s, 70s and 80’s include France, Greece, Italy and British Columbia (Canada).
He was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (1947) and the Sculptors Society of Canada (1961). In 1961 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. During World War II he was a translator in the Canadian Armed Forces (1942 to 1945) serving in France, Italy and Holland.
In addition to exhibiting with the above artist organizations his exhibition venues have also included the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1948-49) and the Art Gallery of Toronto (since 1966 - the Art Gallery of Ontario) (1961).
Aside from his monumental sculptures he has also created a large body smaller works; hundreds of small bears, birds, torsos, figures, heads and masks, in stone and other mediums; which are in many private collections. The locations of his public space works include the Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf (Milton, Ontario), Hart House ( University of Toronto), the Maritime Museum (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Lewiston Public Library (New York), the Provincial Government Buildings (Toronto), Niagara Falls Public Library (Ontario), McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), Lombard Place (Toronto), Peel County Court House (Brampton,Ontario) and many more. One of the largest installations is the Garden of Greek Gods at the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto) which totals 25 figures. His works are also in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum London (Ontario) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.).
He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and in Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson. There is also the book E.B.Cox – A life in Sculpture (1999), text by Gary Michael Dault, photos by Rob Davidson, Steven Evans and Deborah MacNeill, published by The Boston Mills Press (108 pgs, B&W and color).
* The tombstones are on display at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario. Of the ten artists who were members of the Group of Seven, six – Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Lawren Harris, Frank Johnston, A.J. Casson and A.Y. Jackson – are buried in a small cemetery on the McMichael grounds.
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.