Although the critically acclaimed English sculptor is based in the Cotswolds, Ryder initially trained at the Royal Academy of Arts, gaining her diploma in painting; however, after a fellow artist suggested she build her sculpture, she soon found a new path that we can all agree was the right one. Today, her world consists of mystical creatures, animals and hybrid beings who are made by a collection of sawdust, wet plaster, old machine parts and sometimes toys.
‘Since the early days, my work has developed in many parallel directions. I am still entranced by the magical properties of wire, but I have also come to enjoy the quite different challenges posed by marble, plaster and bronze. And while some of my outdoor sculpture has grown larger and larger, I have also learnt the satisfaction that can come from working at a more intimate scale.’ – Sophie Ryder
Inspired by the likes of Picasso, Henry Moore and Goya, Ryder rose past constructional and creative challenges to famously develop the Lady Hare as a counterpart to the Ancient Green mythological creature, the Minotaur. Resembling her own body, the Lady Hare’s character has developed beyond animal form. Initially, the animal, hare, has widely been associated with phases of the moon, lust and fertility, but as Ryder created this sculpture, a powerful new image full of character and emotion has taken hold of her imagination. Although the original appearance has changed over the years, with the head becoming more defined as a mask to show a greater human connection, the Lady Hare has since been associated as the partner of the Minotaur. If not accompanied by him, she is often seen with either a dog or a horse.
The Minotaur, on the other hand, according to Greek mythology, has often been associated as a violent creature who would feed on humans as a source of sustenance. Living up to this reputation, the first sculpture of the Minotaur Ryder created resembled this violence; however, later versions were recreated in accordance with her own vision and perspective of him. With inspiration from Picasso’s image of the Minotaur, Ryder created a strong, loving and protective Minotaur, who is the partner to the Lady Hare.
The two monumental sculptures of these love-struck hybrids, appearing at Glastonbury Festival 2016, were specially commissioned for the festival and took Ryder 13 years to complete. Each standing over 14 feet in height, this is the first ever installation of these two bronze torsos, both of which will make an excellent addition to the festival’s support of the arts.
Coinciding with Relationships, her first exhibition in over a decade on display at the Salisbury Cathedral until 3 July 2016, the appearance at Glastonbury Festival will be highly noted. Ryder has recently displayed her works at sculpture parks including Frederik Meijer Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, Kurpark in Bad Homburg, Germany and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Glastonbury Festival runs from 22–26 June 2016.