Our work is often destined for a particular place. Permanently fixed and part of the landscape. So it is refreshing to see old works in new settings. And settings don’t come much more magnificent than SALISBURY CATHEDRAL. Every summer the cathedral hosts a major sculpture show and this year the vast interior, cloisters and greens are inhabited by the sulptures of Sophie Ryder. www.sophie-ryder.com
Differing materials; heavy textured bronzes, light transparent wire, marble and resin. Old works and new brought together and placed to create a new narrative; a fresh look. The title of Sophie’s exhibition is “Relationships”.
In her new book “A Life in Sculpture” Sophie writes about her exhibition in the cathedral,
“In 1987 Mark Eynon, the Director of the Salisbury Festival, invited me to exhibit my work in the Cathedral cloisters. It was all lit up at night and looked spectacular. It was an exciting start to my career to have my work in such a magnificent setting. Over the space of a few weeks during the show I made a ring of wire goats on the front lawn of the Cathedral.
At the time there was a gallery in Salisbury called Courcoux and Courcoux, who showed an interest in my work and started representing me. That became the start of a long and fruitful friendship with Courcoux and Courcoux and so I became a frequent visitor to Salisbury.
Twenty-seven years later and working with the curator Jacqueline Creswell, I have again exhibited in the city, but this time on a much larger scale and in more venues.
The backdrop of the Cathedral both inside and out is quite a challenge not only because of the beauty of the building but of course its sheer size, making some of my monumental works look normal-sized next to it.
The process of choosing and placing pieces is so much easier when you have another person who understands the work to bounce ideas back and forth with. When selecting for an exhibition, it is quite important to have someone whose judgement you can trust to tell you when enough is enough. I would definitely overcrowd all my shows!
Jacqueline came up with the title for my exhibition of Relationships, which was very easy for me to follow as most of my work is based on the relationships between my characters. Salisbury is the biggest exhibition I have ever had and showed a cross section of the different materials I use and all the different scales of work. It included some of my most recent work, which was completed days before the installation!”
We have worked together, artist and foundry, for many years. More pieces than I can remember; so wandering around the cathedral with Sophie is full of surprises as we come across familiar pieces, popping up like old friends. Along side us, Pedro one her beloved dogs and the model for some of the works on show.
And this is a big show. A kind of retrospective. Important for the artist and for us, for me. We chat; sharing stories of old projects and visions of the new pieces she wants to make.
The sculptures look quite at home in a cathedral. Despite the building’s colossal scale and grandeur it is full of contrasting, intimate spaces which Sophie and the curator have creativly used to show the work in a new way. Fresh views, contrasting backdrops and ever changing light.
Outside the open expanse of the Close gives space to the more monumental works.
Wire constructions are heavy and robust but appear transparent in the sunshine. They are scaled up from the life-size pieces directly modelled in plaster and cast in bronze. The bronzes are patinated in pastel colours, verdigris and iron red. The zinc grey structures are built of steel lines drawn in space, measured and set out with a pantograph, which Sophie then delicately clads in wire to be bonded through industrial galvanising.
Relationships shows the breath of Sophies work in scale and materials. Different ways of making. Of ambitiously trying new things. Materials, techniques, ideas. As a dedicated maker, Sophie is quick to praise those who help to make her work, exemplifying the special relationship that exists between sculptor and foundry.