Three new Sophie Ryder works unveiled at The Piece Hall

Members of the public will be able to view two works by world renowned artist Sophie Ryder for the first time as they go on display at The Piece Hall in Halifax this weekend (19 February). The sculptures, which include the monumental 4.5m-high Dancing Hares which has been installed in The Piece Hall’s stunning 66,000 sq ft Georgian courtyard, will be on show until 23 May.

Dancing Hares has never been displayed publicly before in the UK and it’s the world premiere for Girl with Knees Up. The sixth work to be added LadyHare on Boar on Barrel is on display outside of London for the first time. The artist’s work is inspired by animals, humans and mystical creatures, and has been shown all over the world drawing rave reviews. Originally five pieces were set to be installed, but the decision was taken to add a sixth.

The exhibition, which officially opens on 19 February, will be free for the public to visit as part of The Piece Hall’s extensive music, arts and culture programme, which runs throughout the year. In addition to the six artworks, which were installed earlier in February, 17 additional artworks will go on display in The Piece Hall Gallery. The Gallery space will include works on paper, bronze maquettes, wire drawings and ephemera which take visitors on an immersive journey into Sophie’s world, including one of Sophie Ryder’s first ever bronze sculptures, ‘Robber’, cast in 1988.

Separately, in the Lister Room (accessible to visitors by appointment only with enquiries to be made via The Piece Hall’s Visitor Centre)a collection of works inspired by Sophie’s passion for her dogs will go on display. Even at the Royal Academy, where Sophie was the youngest student since JMW Turner, Sophie had her dog. ‘I was the only one allowed because Bear was my model’, Ryder laughs. Upon graduating Sophie was invited to become artist in residence at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with her dog.

Speaking about the exhibition, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, Nicky Chance-Thompson DL, said:

“Sophie Ryder is a hugely respected artist who has exhibited her work all over the world. The Piece Hall is the perfect venue to bring her work to a new audience and we expect tens of thousands of additional visitors through our gates between 19 February and 23 May. Since installation, which was a logistical exercise in its own right involving two huge cranes, our visitors have been wowed by the sheer scale of some of the works.

“What strikes you when entering the gates is how open the works are. Sophie’s sculptures are intended to be immersive and impress. You can walk up to them and feel the work that has gone into them. It has been especially pleasing to see young children interacting with them – as intended – during half term holidays.”

Artist, Sophie Ryder, said:

“My work has been shown in Yorkshire at Yorkshire Sculpture Park but this exhibition will be very different. I have loved the challenge of The Piece Hall, it’s so huge the sculptures really have to hold their own in order to compete with their surroundings. The magnitude of The Piece Hall and its urban setting is perfect for my exhibition as there is the space for even the very largest sculptures to be walked around and through which really helps bring them to life.”

The Piece Hall received £15,000 through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme to help bring Sophie Ryder’s work to the venue.

In addition to the works on display at The Piece Hall, The Piece Hall Trust are delighted to be working with Arts Charity Dean Clough and Artworks in Halifax, showing stunning additional Sophie Ryder works at each venue. ‘Reclining Blue Lady’, the most recent work on display by the artist, will be showing in Dean Clough’s Crossley Gallery entrance throughout the period. Artworks will be exhibiting Lady-Hare Holding Dog II, a bronze maquette, depicting Ryder’s iconic Lady-Hare and canine characters embracing. Artworks Gallery can be opened by appointment until end April 2022, please contact Artworks directly for details.

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