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Monumental sculpture exhibition

Posted By : Marie Thomas Tuesday 12th April 2016

There is a monumental treat in store for Cathedral visitors over the next three months in the form of a solo exhibition by internationally renowned sculptor Sophie Ryder.

Larger-than-life and life-sized minotaurs and lady-hares stand on the Cathedral lawns and in the cloisters; Sleeping Feet rest on the North East side of the Cathedral, slumbering beneath the soaring Spire; Rising, a Lady-hare as large as a house, crouches on the grass adjacent to the West Front and the Minatour and Lady-hare torsos stand guard by the stone wall at the edge of the West lawn, ever watchful of each other.

Amongst the works inside the Cathedral, Mother and Child stands in the East end next to the Trinity Chapel, a loving and protective marble reminiscent of the Madonna and Child; Introspective, a meditative installation expressing different states of mind is grouped at the West End; in the cloisters the Temple to the Two Hundred Rabbits play happily together, a harmonious colony.

Relationships: An exhibition by Sophie Ryder explores Sophie's own family interactions and relationships, at the same time challenging us to consider how we interact with each other and our own loved ones. She uses the hare-headed female figures and minotaur males both to portray those relationships and to disguise them, to render the emotions explored universal.  She works in a wide range of materials - sculpting painting, etching and drawing – but her among her signature pieces are her monumental wire sculptures. These gigantic works look solid but their weight and size is camouflaged by the fact that you can see into and through them.

Sophie Ryder, who has studios based in near Cirencester and in France, said:

“I get a thrill from working ‘big’ but I also want the pieces, while huge, to be transparent, allowing you to see through them. It is also exciting to have the combination of sizes in the particular Cathedral setting. I like to show my work in both rural and urban settings but very often in urban settings, especially one like the Cathedral Close, the work needs to be monumental to compete with the Cathedral otherwise it would be dwarfed by it.”

The exhibition forms part of the Cathedral’s outreach programme with schools events and other activities built around it. The art is used to share and explore aspects of life and spiritually built around its core values and ministry.

Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral’s Arts Advisor and curator of the exhibition said:

“Churches have found art very effective as a way to reach out and engage the wider community. It has the power to reveal hidden meaning and transform beliefs. The visual arts provide a shorthand through which people can absorb a message very quickly and instinctively. During the Magna Carta celebrations the art we installed played a powerful role in amplifying the values and meaning of the document.

“People are also naturally curious about us as a visitor attraction and art engages and inspires. Given that Sophie is well known in Europe and America we anticipate that there will be considerable interest from home and abroad in her exhibition. It is a wonderfully organic way of getting the word out about the Cathedral, whilst staying true to its core values.”

Canon Dr Robert Titley, Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer said:

“Well-chosen art can make a difference for God through a creative conversation with the Cathedral’s worship and extending our outreach among those who simply may not ‘get’ the other things we do.”

As well as showing work in the Cathedral and Close, Sophie Ryder is exhibiting at Sarum College, The Salisbury Museum and the Young Gallery in Salisbury. The Museum exhibition will re-create a studio environment in order to give visitors an insight into how her work is made. 


Salisbury Cathedral
Exhibition runs until 3 July 2016 (external pieces only)
A number of workshops for children and adults connected to the exhibition are planned - view our events  page for details. 

Salisbury Museum
Recreation of studio environment, open until 9 July
£6 group tickets from (10+ and under 30)

Young Gallery, Salisbury
Smaller 3D work and wire drawings from 7 May – 18 June

Sarum College, Salisbury Cathedral Close
Etchings, screen and solar prints open until 3 July

For any other enquiries contact Marie Thomas 01722 555148