B. 1963 -
The creative imagination of this Gloucestershire born artist is expressed through a diverse range of media. Ryder's techniques include the manipulation of wire, or the enlivening of her bronze sculptures with unusual objects which are pressed into the surface to texture and accentuate the form. She is known for her Hares and Minotaurs, strange amorphous figures now recognized all over the world.
Sophie has always considered herself to be an "artist" and not specifically a sculptor or painter. She was born in London in 1963, studied at Kingston Polytechnic (1980 - 1981) and the Royal Academy Schools, London (1981 - 1984). Hers was a late admission granted by the Academy's President on the strength of her portfolio, at a time when the places for the coming year had already been allocated. At eighteen, she was one of the youngest students ever to have entered the Schools. Sculpture, printmaking and collage became her passions.
Individual animals and groups of them, fashioned in wire and in bronze, some realistic and some fantastical, have become her objects. Human attributes may be found in some of her creatures. They are not just animals, but characters beyond animal form. More important than outward appearances are the gestures, the points of contact, the attitudes of the characters which Ryder impels us to regard first and foremost as indicators of feeling.
"I sculpt characters and beings - the dogs, the hares, the minotaurs - are all characters beyond animal form... I am not interested in making a replica..."
Many of her sculptures are of extremely large scale. They are designed with public spaces in mind and have to compete either with large buildings in an urban context, or else the grandeur of nature in a landscape setting. And most importantly, she is most fulfilled when she is able to immerse herself, body and soul, in the process of making, when the work is large enough for her to move around it and interact with it from every conceivable angle, watching it grow in front of her eyes. She has completed multiple public commissions: Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Yorkshire, 1986), Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire, 1988), and many others, as well as private commissions.
Since 2000, Sophie Ryder has exhibited widely in public exhibitions in the UK, Canada, the United States, Eire, Belgium and the Netherlands. In Europe the spectacular 100 foot wire Torsos was exhibited at the Hague in Holland, sited in an underground chamber. A major show of indoor and outdoor work went to the Beranneman Foundation in Belgium. Shows in North America included substantial exhibitions in Montreal and Vancouver and recently Sophie participated in the Arts Festival in Carlow, Ireland.