The language of the animate earth
The philosophy of compassion

Something to do with love

Conversation by Sophie Ryder

From an interview with David Foster Wallace in The Contemporary Literature Review:

"I've gotten convinced that there's something kind of timelessly vital and sacred about good writing. This thing doesn't have that much to do with talent, even glittering talent. Talent's just an instrument. It's like having a pen that works instead of one that doesn't. I'm not saying I'm able to work consistently out of the premise, but it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art's heart's purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It's got something to do with love. With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved....

"One of the things really great fiction writers do -- from Carver to Chekhov to Flannery O'Connor, or like the Tolstoy of 'The Death of Ivan Ilych' or the Pynchon of Gravity's Rainbow -- is 'give' the reader something. The reader walks away from the real art heavier than she came into it. Fuller. All the attention and engagement and work you need to get from the reader can't be for your benefit; it's got to be for hers. What's poisonous about the cultural environment today is that it makes this so scary to try to carry out."

Which is precisely why this kind of work is necessary. Especially here in the field of fantasy literature and mythic arts.

Sitting by Sophie Ryder

Kneeling Hare by Sophie Ryder

Three drawings by Sophie Ryder

Girl Hugging Dog by Sophie Ryder

Lovers with dogs and train  and La famiglia by Sophie Ryder

Scupture by Sophie Ryder

The marvelous sculptures and drawings today are by English artist Sophie Ryder. Born in London in 1963, she was raised in England and the south of France, studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, and now lives and works in an enchanted hand-crafted farmhouse in the Cotswolds. Ryder's world "is one of mystical creatures, animals and hybrid beings made from sawdust, wet plaster, old machine parts and toys, weld joins and angle grinders, wire 'pancakes,' torn scraps of paper, charcoal sticks and acid baths."

Kneeling Lovers by Sophie Ryder

Hugging by Sophie Ryder

Her hare figures, she says, "started off as upright versions of the hare in full animal form, and now they have developed into half human and half hare. I needed a figure to go with the minotaur -- a human female figure with an animal head. The hare head seemed to work perfectly, the ears simulating a mane of hair. She feels right to me, as if she had always existed in myth and legend, like the minotaur."

Two drawings by Sophie Ryder

Dog drawings by Sophie Ryder

Ryder's dogs (whippets crossed with Italian greyhounds) also appear frequently in her work. "I have been breeding these dogs since 1999," she explains, "and since then have achieved the most perfect companions and models -- Elsie, Pedro, Luigi and Storm. Now we are a pack and they are with me twenty-four hours a day. We run, work and sleep together -- although they do have their own beds now! Living cheek-by-jowl with these dogs means that their form is somehow sitting just under my own skin. I can draw or sculpt them entirely from memory. They are my full-time companions so I am never lonely. The relationship between the Lady Hare and the dog is very close, just as is my bond with my own family of dogs."

To see more of Ryder's art, please visit her website, Instragram page, or seek out Jonathan Bennington's book Sophie Ryder (Lund Humphries, 2001). There's an interview with the artist here, lovely pictures of her farmhouse here, and more information on the folklore of hares and rabbits here.

Sophie Ryder at an exhibition of her work 2018

The quote above is from "A Conversation with David Foster Wallace" by Larry McCaffery (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1993). All rights to the art, video, and text above reserved by the artist, filmmaker, and the author's estate.

Related posts: Doing it for love and Not silence but many voices.


OMG that video! PUPPIES!!!!!

Amazing and weirdly wonderful art. Loved the pup video too, despite early morning call (4.50am) being a smack in the face from a wide awake, and ready to play, pup.

I was woken at that hour by my beast too (although at almost 10 years old, she's far from her pup days). I've been wide awake ever since, while Tilly has gone back to bed...

It's one of my favourite-ever videos. Art-making...puppies...what could be better?

We prepare to leave (at least for a few weeks) a camp where Bunnies, who were once "Easter Give-aways" in our local village years ago, have bred with the Wild Ones and become great residents. Hundreds of them! The Hares here in the artwork, and the post of words that remind me that art comes from that place to do with love ... it breeds me afresh with what I forget sometimes. The Bunnies of the Campground are so much about loving and making more Bunnies; and living with twitching noses and strong hunches.

Thank you for today's gift of juxtapositions, Terri!

Super! Applause for art and puppies merged into that video! What fun!

My fat black cat woke me up too by bunting me with a wet nose and purring in my ear! This meant I had to go down stairs and open a packet of revoltingly pungent cat food and then on the cat's insistence, keep him company while he slurped and burped his way through his pre-dawn breakfast. I wasn't best pleased as I never get back to sleep after waking up early. But at least I had an excuse to be grumpy all day, not that I need much of an excuse.

P.S. Clare slept through everything, as usual.

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