When the Dean of Westminster Abbey rang John Maine RA earlier this year for his thoughts on a memorial for Stephen Hawking, the eminent theoretical physicist, its perhaps not surprising that he turned to Fyfe Glenrock to assist him with sourcing the stone and its preparation. John has worked with Fyfe Glenrock on many of his commissions over the years.
Fyfe Glenrock sourced the Caithness slate for John, who was attracted to this material as it can appear light when carved or sawn but very dark when honed or polished. His design began with a feeling of deep space where a series of shapes whirl around a central ellipse, a black hole. The centre became black, surrounded by drifts of lighter carved texture. Two intersecting lines are the coordinates of the ellipse and refer to the dimensions of space and time. As a memorial to a remarkable man, it was important to balance the need for stillness with a sense of energy.
The inscription echoes the Latin text of Isaac Newton’s nearby stone: HIC DEPOSITUM QUOD MORTALE FUIT ISAACI NEWTONI. The translation became: HERE LIES WHAT WAS MORTAL OF STEPHEN HAWKING. In addition, Hawking’s famous equation is inscribed on his memorial.
Fyfe Glenrock cut the slab and prepared the surface. It was then sent to Gillian Forbes in Perth who is a very skilful letter cutter and she was able to give life and character to the inscription. The slab was then returned to Oldmeldrum, where John added the areas of texture to complete the work.
The stone was transported to Westminster Abbey, where it was set into the floor of the nave over the ashes of Stephen Hawking after a moving service on 15th June 2018.