After graduating from the Royal Academy Schools in 1984, Ryder worked at YSP in 1986 on a three-month residency. It was during this residency that she developed the use of galvanised steel wire as a sculptural material.
Ryder lovingly explored the animal world by teasing lifelike sheep, hares, deer and horses from thick spongy wire. The skill lies not only in the representation of the living form but also in creating the community of the herd and the tension of courtship. The exhibition included an extraordinary flock of 32 sheep which was Ryder’s largest group and developed, on a grand scale, the importance of relationships between figures in her work.
Other wire figures included the mysterious and mythical half-human Minotaur which, in Ryder’s hands, becomes a gentle giant. Minotaur Sniffing a Daisy had the soul of a poet and brought a human element to her work, which is also explored in other groups such as Minotaur and Hare. Never sentimental, Ryder portrays love, affection and mortal frailty in forms that are sometimes over two-metres high.