Ryder’s work includes human, animal and mythological figures, frequently melding forms to combine the attitudes and instincts of each. Anthropomorphic characters are used both to explore the human condition and as a metaphor for Ryder’s own feelings. Over several years she has evolved an ongoing narrative around the female / mother figure of the Lady-Hare; a hybrid with the head of a hare, and its body modelled on Ryder’s own. The Minotaur also features strongly in the artist’s work, often interacting with Lady-Hare in a relationship which even sees them depicted as a family with a child.
Ryder is renowned for using animal imagery to explore the complexities of emotion. Through her work, she uses animals to communicate a range of feelings and experiences often seen as specific to humans, seeking to convey her conviction that emotion can be readable in all living creatures, human or animal. Conversation uses the motif of a figure on horseback, with Lady-Hare and Dog in a silent, mysterious dialogue.
Ryder’s treatment of the bronze surface is unique. At the initial plaster stage, she gouges out sections of her work and adds in elements to give texture. These range from car parts to domestic objects and plastic toys, adding to the enigmatic sense of the sculptures.