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Veronica Ryan

Along a Spectrum

Veronica Ryan

Along a Spectrum

Veronica Ryan, Along a Spectrum (2021) Installation view, Spike Island, Bristol. Commissioned by Spike Island, Bristol and supported by Freelands Foundation. Photograph by Max McClure. Copyright Veronica Ryan. Courtesy Spike Island, Bristol, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York and Alison Jacques, London



Spike Island presents a major exhibition of new works by British artist Veronica Ryan (b. 1956, Montserrat). Supported by Freelands Foundation through the Freelands Award, this is Ryan’s largest and most ambitious exhibition in the UK to date.

Ryan is best known for her sculpture that is evocative of shapes, forms and objects from the natural world. Over the years, she has experimented with scale, material and technique while remaining focused on the interplay between conflicting opposites: revelation and concealment, container and contained, absence and presence. Her work sits at the intersection between materiality and idea, and enquires into the processes by which objects carry and construct meaning.

Made during an extended residency at Spike Island in Bristol, the works in Along a Spectrum examine environmental and socio-political concerns, personal narratives, history and displacement, as well as the wider psychological implications of the current pandemic. New works include cast forms in clay and bronze; sewn and tea-stained fabrics; and bright neon crocheted fishing line pouches filled with a variety of seeds, fruit stones and skins.

Fruits, seeds, plants and vegetables are recurring motifs in Ryan’s sculpture – they function metaphorically for the artist’s own sense of dislocation and, more widely, they allude to a history of trading across the globe. In Ryan’s work, personal experience is often conditioned by a sense of location. An important focus of her research is on the history of Montserrat and trying to identify its early culture prior to the arrival of the Europeans. As such, Along a Spectrum presents large groups of soursop skins and cocoa pods cast in clay and glazed with volcanic ash from Alliouagana, the name by which the native Caribs called the island of Montserrat.

A photograph of Veronica Ryan's exhibition catalogue Along a Spectrum

Exhibition catalogue

Surveying the breadth and richness of her career to date, the book contains essays by scholars and curators including Vanessa Boni, Dorothy Price and Natalie Rudd, as well as a conversation between Ryan and art historian Courtney J. Martin.

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Image of the cover of the magazine FOCUS Image of the cover of the magazine FOCUS

FOCUS: Freelands Foundation interviews artist Veronica Ryan

An interview with artist Veronica Ryan about her Freelands Award exhibition Along a Spectrum opening at Spike Island on 19 May 2021.

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Veronica Ryan

Veronica Ryan (b. 1956, Plymouth, Montserrat) moved to England as an infant and she currently works between New York and the UK. Ryan’s solo exhibitions include The Weather Inside, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2019); Salvage, The Art House, Wakefield (2017); The Weather Inside, The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2011); Archaeology of the Black Sun, Salena Gallery, Long Island (2005); Quoit Montserrat, Tate St Ives, Cornwall (2000); Compartments/Apartments, Camden Arts Centre, London and Angel Row, Nottingham (1995), and Arnolfini, Bristol (1987). Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2019); Nottingham Contemporary (2017); Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2009) and The Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007). Ryan has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including most recently the 2019 Pollock Krasner Grant, the 2018 Freelands Award, and the Hackney Art Windrush Commission (to be unveiled in 2021).

“Against a lifetime of unstable monuments, of fires, volcanoes and pandemics, why strive for object permanence? Better, far, to cherish disintegration and, with it, the possibility of new life.” – Hettie Judah, Art Monthly

“Tying, sewing, filling, casting and stacking can all be read as a defence against the human experience of the abject – a way to control the uncontrollable.” – Kathryn Lloyd, Burlington Magazine

“Ryan’s sculptures are at once candid and encrypted, grounded in their material origin yet mysteriously transformed by the artistic process. Even the title of her show at Spike Island — Along a Spectrum — whispers of Ryan’s refusal to be pinned down to a single position.” – Rachel Spence, the Financial Times

“British sculptor Veronica Ryan’s work celebrates the natural world and the Caribbean with beautiful pastel-hued works that evoke dreaming, childhood memories and home.” – The Guardian critics pick the best art shows for 2021

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Please note our galleries are currently closed for the installation of our next exhibitions, Eric Baudelaire and Alvin Curran, When There Is No More Music to Write and Tanoa Sasraku, Terratypes. We will reopen on Saturday 28th May.