Sophie Ryder: All of Us: The Lightbox, Woking

1 April - 10 September 2023

Sophie Ryder: All of Us presents a major exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Sophie Ryder (b. 1963) at The Lightbox, Woking


With works featured throughout the building, audiences are invited to step into Sophie Ryder’s imaginary world of mystical beings in this major new solo show which celebrates the artist’s 60th year. The exhibition brings together the artist’s signature grand-scale sculpture alongside works on paper, wire works and mosaics showcasing the breadth of her practice. This sumptuous exhibition features her unique cast of characters through which she describes her life, relationships, and a universal human experience. 


With over 50 works spanning 30 years of making installed throughout the building, the exhibition presents a deep dive into Ryder’s interest in the human body and her enduring connection to family and animals. In Sophie’s world two central hybrid beings emerge: the long eared Ladyhare, the abiding fictional female character of the artists realm, and its partner, the iconic bull-headed Minotaur, reimagined beyond Greek mythology. By adopting a mask her figures explore their animal natures and are free to explore the taboo. Joined by the Ladyhare’s gentle horse and devoted dogs, we recognise relationship dynamics that touch us all. 


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.


To celebrate 15 years of The Lightbox since opening in 2007, Sophie Ryder has been invited to install work throughout the building. From the Main Gallery to the Courtyard, audiences can experience her work in conversation with the award-winning architecture of this beautiful gallery. The Upper Gallery exhibition, Sophie Selects, will give visitors an intimate insight into the artist through her selection from The Ingram Collection. It is the first time an artist has selected work from The Ingram Collection to accompany their major solo show. Sophie Selects has been curated from The Ingram Collection, one of the largest and most significant publicly accessible collections of Modern British art in the UK.


In recent years the artworld has reveled in the excitement of young artists reimagining figurative art, exploring craft and expressing female sexuality. This exhibition is an opportunity to see how Sophie Ryder, now at 60 has been championing the figure in her work over the last five decades.


Click INSTALLATION VIEWS to see more images.


Sarah Brown, Director of The Lightbox:

‘We are thrilled to be opening these new exhibitions. To celebrate the milestones these exhibitions mark, we are very excited to be releasing a limited-edition Sophie Ryder print exclusive to The Lightbox. The print is the lead image for the show, full of creative energy, vivid colour and the iconic characters of Ryder’s work. The Lightbox has a long-standing relationship with Ryder’s work as a group of sculptures feature in both The Joan Hurst Collection and in The Ingram Collection. To now have the Lightbox alive with this major solo exhibition is fantastic and 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit after all.’


Sophie Ryder, artist:

‘When The Lightbox invited me to exhibit a few years ago, the first thing I liked was the name, LIGHTBOX. Then I visited the gallery and was amazed by the incredible scale and feel of the space. I feel very lucky to have been invited to showcase my work here.


This show has a mix of work spanning half of my life. As you will see, I like to try my hand at everything. Any material I can lay my hands on, I will give it a go. Sometimes, I go through months with that material and then I take a break for a few years. Every material is as important to me, but I suppose the wire is what I have been using the longest, as I started as a child.

The title came to me as I wanted to express the fact that my work is universal and shows all my characters from human to animal and everyone in between. My titles are rather obvious because I don’t necessarily want to dictate to people the story behind the work so that they can invent their own narrative. We all have our own stories.’


Artist Biography – Sophie Ryder

Sophie Ryder was born in London, England, in 1963. Sophie studied Combined Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts 1981-84, where, while obtaining her diploma in painting, she was encouraged by Sir Hugh Casson, the then director of the Royal Academy, to develop her sculpture.‚Äč At age 17, Sophie Ryder was the youngest student after J.M.W. Turner to be admitted to the Royal Academy of Arts Schools in London. Since graduating in 1984, 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; Frederik Meijer Sculpture Park, USA; Pilane, Sweden; Salisbury Cathedral, UK; The Ann Norton Sculpture Park, Florida, US; and The Piece Hall, Halifax, UK.