The Piece Hall’s stunning Georgian courtyard will host a UK first with a major exhibition by world renowned artist Sophie Ryder this February. A highlight includes the UK debut of Ryder’s monumental 4.5m high bronze installation ‘Dancing Hares’ which is over 7 metres wide.
Sophie Ryder’s work is inspired by animals, humans and mystical creatures and has been exhibited all over the world. Speaking about the exhibition, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, Nicky Chance-Thompson DL, said:
“It’s a huge coup for us. We’re both honoured and excited to show the work of sculptor Sophie Ryder who is without question the most highly respected artist we’ve welcomed to The Piece Hall to date.
“We’re passionate about making this kind of world class art easily accessible to the public. We recognise how vital culture and the arts are in enriching our environment and it will be a huge draw for people to visit The Piece Hall. The timing, as we head into Spring with its focus on new beginnings is perfect and adds an extra resonance to the exhibition. Sophie’s work is highly celebrated in the art world and our historic venue and surrounding landscape, will provide a stunning backdrop for her iconic works.”
Artist, Sophie Ryder, said:
“My work has been shown in Yorkshire at Yorkshire Sculpture Park but this exhibition will be very different. I have loved the challenge of The Piece Hall, it’s so huge the sculptures really have to hold their own in order to compete with their surroundings. The magnitude of The Piece Hall and its urban setting is perfect for my exhibition as there is the space for even the very largest sculptures to be walked around and through which really helps bring them to life.”
Hignell Gallery Director Abby Hignell, who has worked with the artist and The Piece Hall with the exhibition, said:
“Working together with Sophie for the past 7 years, we exhibit not only in the Mayfair gallery space but always embrace opportunities to showcase her unique, larger than life sculptures in the open air. Unlike the white walls of a gallery the sculptures change mood with the weather. It can also be the best place to discover and engage with sculpture for the first time as its far more welcoming beyond the velvet ropes of a museum.
“In this exhibition we also have the space within The Piece Hall to exhibit smaller artworks so you really take a journey into Sophie’s world from sketchbooks to wireworks to mosaics, from miniatures to the monumental.
“I’m so delighted that The Arts Council has supported this ground-breaking exhibition as they are most discerning with the projects they champion. We are thrilled with this badge of honour.”
The outdoor exhibition will consist of the following pieces: Dancing Hares (bronze); The Minotaur and The Hare on a Bench (bronze); Torsos (Lady Hare and Minotaur) (galvanised steel wire); Crawling (bronze); Girl with Knees Up (bronze) and Lady-Hare on Boar on a Barrel (bronze).
Additional works will be on display at The Gallery in The Piece Hall.
The Piece Hall Gallery space exhibition consists of 17 artworks including works on paper, bronze maquettes and wire drawings and ephemera which take you on a journey into Sophie’s world. The exhibition includes ‘Robber’, the first bronze sculpture Ryder ever cast in 1988. Ryder made the sculpture in wire but was encouraged by her friend and mentor Elisabeth Frink RA to cast it in bronze and the rest is history. Ryder still has a passion for wire and her two dimensional wire drawings, unique to the artist, can be seen on display including ‘Open Hand’.
In the Lister Room is a collection of works inspired by Sophie’s passion for her dogs. Even at the Royal Academy, where Sophie was the youngest student since JMW Turner, Sophie had her dog. ‘I was the only one allowed because Bear was my model’, Ryder laughs. Upon graduating Sophie was invited to become artist in residence at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with her dog.
The huge charcoal of Luigi is one of her four current dogs. Sophie says ' Luigi is the biggest dog and has such a huge character, he’s full on and makes himself known, he loves to please. He loves everyone and wants everyone to love him. Thats probably why I ended up doing a huge head of him.’
The exhibition will be free to enter and open to the public on 19th February until 23rd May.
The Piece Hall received £15,000 through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme to help bring Sophie Ryder’s work to the venue.