Monumental art exhibition comes to Cathedral and Close

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There is a monumental treat in store for visitors to as internationally renowned British sculptor Sophie Ryder brings her latest exhibition to Salisbury Cathedral.

Life-sized Minotaurs and Lady Hares have appeared on the Cathedral lawn and cloisters, the Kiss (a 20ft high arch formed by massive clasped hands) straddles the path from the High Street Gate to the West Door and Rising (a Lady Hare as large as a house) crouches on the grass adjacent to the West Front.

These gigantic works are part of a major two-stage show, Relationships: An exhibition by Sophie Ryder, which opened on 12 February and runs until 3 July.

Curated by Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral’s Visual Arts Advisor, Relationships 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.

Sophie Ryder said: “The Lady Hare ‘mask’ and the Minotaur head are a way of concealing the identity of the figures in the sculptures, otherwise it would always be me or one of my family. It is better for people to make up their own story and project their own relationships onto the sculptures. They also allow me to explore the physical side of relationships more easily because they are half animal, which is somehow less shocking.”

Sophie is showing work made in a wide range of sizes and materials, even ‘drawings’ in wire, but the gigantic hands, feet and eyes that are another of her trademarks are testament to the fact that she enjoys working on a monumental scale.

Talking about her larger works, Sophie 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.”

Sophie is no stranger to Salisbury Cathedral. Twenty five years ago she exhibited in the Cathedral Cloisters and also made a sculpture outside in the grounds. This time she is also 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.

View photos of the Sophie Ryder exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral

Cathedrals and Art

Cathedral art exhibitions are both a way of addressing thought-provoking subjects that can be extended into the Cathedral’s outreach – an expression of the place and its values – as well as a way to enhance the site as a visitor destination.

Jacqueline 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 visuals 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 and as a visitor attraction 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.”

The Cathedral will be putting on a second art exhibition at the end the 2016. Reflections is co-curated by Jacquiline Creswell and glass artist Rebecca Newnham and features the work of ten artists from as far afield as New Zealand, all of whom work in glass. Reflections will run from 1 August to 31 October, 2016.

At a glance…

Salisbury Cathedral
Exterior exhibition 12 Feb to 3 July 2016
Interior exhibition 9 April to 3 July 2016
Free guided Art tours plus group craft activities on request (subject to availability)

Salisbury Museum
Recreation of studio environment with maquettes and drawing 20 Feb – 9 July
£6 group tickets from (10+ and under 30)

Young Gallery, Salisbury (wire drawing and maquettes) May 7 – 18 June