The Permanent Collections

Sculpture Collection

Sarah Ryan – Untitled


Ryan, Sarah

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1993-98, nine ceramic pieces, dimensions variable (acquired by the gallery in 1993-98)

Sarah Ryan’s (1950-2001) ceramic works look like an engineered cross between vessel and small creature from some fantastic, pre-human world.

Ryan invests her sculptures with an animating force that truly lends them a life of their own. While one senses that these pieces may be distantly related to the functional or decorative pot, they quite certainly inhabit a very different world. Ryan created these shapes not by conventional throwing or coiling techniques; instead, she modelled them by prodding the clay by hand. Some specimens bear soft bird’s egg-like patterns, others have more tortoise-like shells.

The forms are reminicant of fish, sea urchins or strange ancient crustaceans. Delicately coloured and definitely marked, it seems as though some of them are about to hatch. It very difficult not to think of them as alive.

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