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Sophie Ryder (born 1963 in London, UK) is a British sculptor. Her imaginary world is populated by mystical hybrid creatures bound together in intimate and affectionate companionship. Although best known for her huge wire sculptures, Ryder uses many other materials - bronze, wet plaster embedded with old machine parts, sheet metal, marble, and stained glass. Drawing, painting and printmaking have always been central to her artistic practice and are a vital creative counterpoint to her sculptural work.
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 fellow artists to develop her sculpture.
Ryder's world is one of mystical creatures, animals and hybrid beings made from sawdust, wet plaster, old machine parts and toys, weld joins and angle grinders, wire 'pancakes', torn scraps of paper, charcoal sticks and acid baths. Sophie developed the Lady Hare as a counterpart to Ancient Greek mythology's Minotaur. Working 'big' is a very significant feature of Sophie's work, and she enjoys rising to the constructional and creative challenges which flow from this aspiration.
Ryder has mainly focused her work on mythical creatures. Her most known piece is the Lady Hare, a hare with a female human body. In 1994 a sculpture of five minotaurs was banned from an exhibition at Winchester Cathedral because of the prominence of their genitalia.
When asked about what influences her, Ryder replies, "I don't sit and contemplate what it is I am trying to achieve. My head is full of ideas all the time. It is part of my life. I don't plan anything, it just comes.
When asked why she portrays hares she replied, "Well, I find it difficult answering that question because I don't really know the answer. It's the same as asking me why I make sculptures, and the answer is, because I feel driven to. So it's difficult to always pin down reasons. My introduction to hares was when my lurcher dog would proudly bring hares home and drop them at my feet.
- Alberge, Dalya (7 April 1994). "Cathedral ban on sculptor's 'indecent' minotaurs: Sophie Ryder's latest work has fallen foul of church censors because of its 'too prominent' genitalia". The Independent. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
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