“There is little doubt that 20th- and 21st-century British sculpture has been one of the defining forces of contemporary art. Sophie Ryder has been one of the most original forces contributing to this tradition.” Sir Peter Murray CBE, Founder of Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Sophie Ryder was born in London, England, in 1963 and was the youngest student after J.M.W. Turner to be admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in London aged 17. 2023 marks Sophie Ryder’s 60th year and celebratory events opened with the solo exhibition ‘Sophie Ryder: Sculpture, Drawings and Prints’ at the Djanogly Art Gallery (til 12 March) curated by Neil Walker. From 1st April – 10th September The Lightbox, the award-winning gallery and museum in Woking has a major retrospective with over 50 works by the artist spanning 30 years of making. Further open air sculptures are sited at St James’s Square RHS Wisley and Chelsea Barracks.
Ryder famously developed the iconic Ladyhare as a counterpart to Ancient Greek mythology’s Minotaur. By adopting a mask her figures can explore their animal natures, as well as investigate that which is taboo. Joined by the Ladyhare’s gentle horse and devoted dogs, we recognise relationship dynamics that touch us all. Ryder’s profound love of animals is emphasised in her depiction of her dogs, constant companions in her life as well as her art.
Her anthropomorphic characters are used both to explore the human condition and as a metaphor for Ryder’s own feelings. Indeed the Ladyhare’s body is based on Ryder’s own, imbuing it with a personal significance yet transcending the limitations of the autobiographical. Her work is an exploration of the female psyche and sexuality as her body morphs with the powerful energy and form of the hare.
Since graduating in 1986, Ryder has shown her work all over the world including major indoor and outdoor sculpture exhibitions at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK; Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, UK; Blickachsen, Germany; The Victoria Art Gallery Bath, UK ; Frederik Meijer Sculpture Park, USA; Pilane, Sweden; Salisbury Cathedral, UK; The Ann Norton Sculpture Park, Florida, US; and The Piece Hall, Halifax, UK.