Sophie Ryder: Small Forms

6 - 17 November 2023
H I G N E L L  Gallery is delighted to present Sophie Ryder at Gallery 8 on Duke Street St James’s.
Step into Sophie’s world of mythical beings as we celebrate the artists 60th year here in London, the city where she was born, and where she trained at the Royal Academy Schools.  Ryder was youngest student since J.M.W. Turner to be admitted aged just 17.
This exhibition brings together her unique cast of characters with which she describes her life, relationships and the human experience. 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. For Ryder ‘they are opposite forces, which can be paired or remain independent of one another.’ 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 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.
As 2023 marks Sophie Ryder’s 60th year, this exhibition forms part of a series of public celebratory exhibits. The year opened with ‘Sophie Ryder: Sculpture, Drawings and Prints’ at the Djanogly Art Gallery curated by Neil Walker. The Lightbox held a major retrospective with over 50 works by the artist spanning 30 years of making. The iconic ‘Crawling’ made her way across Chelsea Barracks this Summer and RHS Wisley have 3 open air bronzes to visit and enjoy through into 2024.
Since graduating in 1986, Ryder has shown her work all over the world including major 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.