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Sophie Ryder’s world is one of mystical creatures, animals and hybrid beings made from sawdust, wet plaster, old machine parts and toys, weld joins and angle grinders, wire ‘pancakes’, torn scraps of paper, charcoal sticks and acid baths.

These art objects are direct products of her working methods, and as such they have an inherent fascination – people are naturally intrigued by unusual processes. It is still necessary, however, to see beyond them and recognise that the materials are a means to an end: the communication of ideas. They lie at the centre of all the artist’s creations, and they are fed by a spring that never runs dry. Indeed, the ideas emerge so quickly that she never has enough time to implement all of them. The ability to retrieve and develop an idea will depend not only on how other projects are progressing, but also on the resolution of any technical hurdles she may have set herself, especially in relation to her larger sculptures.

Working ‘big’ is a very significant feature of her work, and she enjoys rising to the constructional and creative challenges which flow from this aspiration.
Many of the people who meet the artist, whether in her studio, at an exhibition opening or an art fair, have already formed a mental picture of a six-foot Amazon with enormous biceps. How else, they think, could such larger than life creatures be brought into the world by a woman sculptor?
They have to struggle to hide their astonishment when they confront reality: Sophie is five foot five, slender, softly spoken, slightly dreamy (mostly she is thinking about work in progress) and wears her hair in long tresses. She is altogether more reminiscent of a Pre-Raphaelite muse than a prolific builder of potent images. Looks do deceive, of course, and in her case the evidence of her hard profession is born on the tips of her fingers. These have become so abraded by the materials she uses that she has virtually lost the capacity to make fingerprints. Commitment is all, and one sees the same quality applied to everything else that matters to her – family, daughters, friends, dogs, cooking and eating organic products, keeping fit with daily runs, playing classical guitar and watching no television. The only way she can maintain a healthy balance is to have a very disciplined approach to her work, and to pull in helpers on the strict understanding that they will deliver an equivalent level of commitment. She is not a prima donna, however, as anyone hearing her infectious laughter is bound to appreciate. She has an ability to see the funny side of things without ‘making’ fun, and much of her work expresses her desire to preserve her own ‘joie de vivre’ at all costs, reawakening ours in the process.

SOPHIE RYDER – THE ARTIST

Sophie Ryder was born in London, England, in 1963. During her childhood, her French mother travelled to Provence in the south of France where the family spent the entire summer. She studied Combined Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts where, while obtaining her diploma in painting, she was encouraged by fellow artist to develop her sculpture. Inspired by Picasso, Goya and Henry Moore, she famously developed the Lady Hare as a counterpart to Ancient Greek mythology’s Minotaur.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Newport City Museum & Art Gallery
Barings Bank
De Beers Collection
Gerrard & National Bank
New Hall College, Cambridge
Conoco Ltd
The BOC Group
The Private Bank and Trust Company Ltd
The National Trust
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum
Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath and North East Somerset
Robert and Mary Montgomery Armory Arts Center, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Tyne and Wear Development Corporation
Ballantrae Park, Dublin, Ohio, USA
Frensham Heights School
Folkestone Town
OHSU Foundation

1987
Edward Totah Gallery, London
Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge

1988
St Paul’s Gallery, Leeds
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge

1989
Henley Festival, Henley-on-Thames
Berkeley Square Gallery, London

1990
Newport City Museum & Art Gallery, Newport, Gwent
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge

1991
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

1992
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge

1994
Winchester Cathedral, Inner Close, Winchester
Red House Museum & Gardens, Christchurch, Dorset
The Allen Gallery (Garden), Alton, Hampshire

1995
Berkeley Square Gallery, London

1996
Belloc Lowndes Gallery, Chicago, USA

1997
O’Hara Gallery, New York, USA
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum / city centre
Berkeley Square Gallery, London

1998
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge

1999
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath and city centre
Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford
Berkeley Square Gallery, London

2000
Odapark, Venray, Holland
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge
Buschlen Mowatt Galleries, Vancouver, Canada

2001
Galerie de Bellefeuille, Quebec, Canada
Berkeley Square Gallery, London

2002
Metropole Galleries, Folkestone, Kent
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge
Pierrepont Fine Art, Oxford

2003
Berkeley Square Gallery, London

2004
Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, USA
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
Storey Gallery, Lancaster / town centre

2005
Canary Wharf, London

2006
Atkinson Gallery, Millfield School, Millfield

2007
Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, USA
Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, USA

2008
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

2009
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

2012
Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford
Villa D’Arte, Pietrasanta, Italy

2013
Celia Lendis Contemporary Art Gallery, Moreton-in-Marsh
Royal West Academy, Bristol
Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, USA

2014
New Brewery Arts, Cirencester

May 3 – Jun 29, 2014
New Brewery Arts, Cirencester

Oct 4 – Oct 29, 2014
Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Stockbridge

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1984
Christie’s Inaugural Pick of the Graduates
Dogwork, Interim Art, London

1985
The Nature of the Beast, Henley Festival, Henley-on-Thames
Summer in the City, Gallery 24, London
Harry Scott & Sophie Ryder, Gallery 24, London

1986
Bretton Menagerie, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
Freedom to Touch, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Animals in Photography, Photographers Gallery, London

1987
Cats, Louise Hallet Gallery, London

1988
Glasgow Garden Festival, Glasgow
Cleveland Gallery, Middlesborough
Winter Exhibition, Berkeley Square Gallery, London
The Cultivated Garden, Oxford Gallery, Oxford
Chilford Hall Press, Cambridge
The Fabricated Landscape, Plymouth City Museum

1990
Menagerie, Glasgow Print Studio, Glasgow

1991
Hannah Peschar Gallery, Ockley, Surrey

1992
Art at Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes
Millfield 20th Century Sculpture Exhibition, Millfield School, Millfield
Women Artists – Critics Choice, Bruton Street Gallery, London
Young British Art, Arhus Festival, Denmark
Bruton Gallery, Bath

1993
Sophie Ryder Collages, Oxford Gallery, Oxford
Art in the City, London
Within Reach, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Brury St Edmunds, Suffolk

1994
Summer Show, Berkeley Square Gallery, London
Sculpture at Goodwood, Chichester
Artbus, Fife, Scotland (Drawings)
Minotaur, Myths & Legends, Berkeley Square Gallery, London

1996
Chelsea Harbour, London

1997
Manchester Academy, Manchester
Wimpole Hall, Cambridge
The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
Animals in Art (Blue Cross), Sothebys, London

1998
Vancouver Sculpture Festival, Vancouver, Canada

1999
Shape of the Century – 100 Years of British Sculpture, Salisbury and Canary Wharf, London
Den Haag Sculptuur, The Hague, Holland

2000
Veranneman Foundations, Belgium

2001
Kirkland International Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Washington, USA
Eigsé, Carlow Arts Festival, Eire
Den Haag Sculptuur, The Hague, Holland

2003
Newbury Spring Festival, Newbury

2005
Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver, Canada

2007
Blickachsen 6, Kurpark, Bad Homburg
Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver, Canada

2009
Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver, Canada

2010
Aynhoe Park, Banbury

2011
Aynhoe Park, Banbury
Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver, Canada

2013
Wet Paint Gallery, Cirencester