Spike Island presents a major exhibition of new works by British artist Veronica Ryan (b. 1956, Plymouth, 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.