iGallery : Wire Sculpture

Inventor of Wire Sculpture 

Sophie Ryder studied at the Royal Academy Schools and has been making sculptures in wire and bronze for over thirty years. Many of these works are monumental in scale and designed for outdoor settings. 

The idea of making three-dimensional sculptures from wire was pioneered by Sophie Ryder. She begins with a metal armature, which she covers with wire of different thicknesses. To shape the wire she uses her bare hands and pliers, sometimes aided by a hammer. It is a very physical job and exceedingly tough on the hands.

About her wire sculpture, Sophie Ryder adds: "The monumental wire sculpture fulfill a lot of the criteria, that I aim to achieve with my work.  They are huge which I think outdoor sculpture needs to be, yet they have a light airy feel about them. The wire is not dense so the light shines through and when one walks around this gives a feeling of movement which brings the piece to life.  The large work is made in many sections so they are relatively easy to move around.  There are months of work involved with the scaling up from my maquette and welding sections to bolt together.  The trick is to produce a final piece which looks spontaneous so that when it is placed in the landscape it looks like a stroke of a brush on a canvas."

Obsessive Art

As a figurative artist, everything Sophie Ryder creates, must end up in a form that demands a strong emotive response. Sophie's working methods include an extraordinary ability to utilise materials, that in other's hands often prove awkward and unyielding. Although best known for using wire as a sculptural medium, she doesn't restrict herself to the use of one particular material for its own sake. Whatever material she uses, Sophie has always responded by looking closely at traditional working methods and then asking how else it could be used; what are its limitations; is it suitable to express her thoughts?  It is not enough to say her idea can fit the material, rather the material must bend to her will. She compulsively exploits it, forcing a way through until it forms a unique structure that could only be hers. Whether working in wire, bronze, clay, plaster or translating her ideas two dimensionally, Sophie's strong imagery is instantly recognisable. She works through her ideas in a relentless pursuit of perfection. People are often surprised that her hands, able to manipulate the most intractable of materials, are still soft and supple. On closer inspection, one can see that her finger prints have almost worn away from years of abuse.

Unique Originality

Sophie's work is highly original and has been much imitated over the years. Her wire drawings are quite unique, defying the usual catagorisation of sculptural or pictorial; they are both of course, These huge tableaux are often at their best, viewed outside, against a skyline. Sophie refuses to verbalise her art. She does not explain or give it pretentious labels or titles. She is, in many ways, a maverick, content to pander to no one but herself. Art is not a job or a club in which to belong, for her it is simply something she can't stop doing. Sophie's life is her work; her work her obsession. She is a believer; a believer in visceral response; in the emotiveness and tangibility of her work which is always embodied in the aesthetic imperative. One feels a sense of affinity with her work which somehow draws you in. Her raison d'etre is a compulsion to present her view of life, sometimes mystical, sometimes poetic.  For the viewer, her hope is one of contemplation, response, harmony, peace and pleasure.