As she receives the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award this spring, the most comprehensive exhibition of von Rydingsvard's work to date goes on display in Yorkshire.
Ursula von Rydingsvard typically works with cedar wood that has been cut, assembled and laminated into 4” x 4” beams that serve as a ‘blank canvas’.
From here she creates a diverse range of sculptural work, from monolithic structures to wall-mounts, typically referencing items from the real world, such as bowls, shovels, spoons and fences, primitive dwellings, geological formations, the landscape and the body. In fact, having worked with cedar for 35 years, von Rydingsvard is now allergic to her favoured wood yet continues to use it, spending up to eight hours a day wearing a heavy, air-pumped protective suit.
Born in Nazi Germany to a Ukranian father and Polish mother, her work is often highly personal. It echoes her experiences growing up first in a farming community ‘surrounded by wood’ and then in sparsely constructed refugee camps in the 1940s.
For this display, more than 40 works of drawing and sculpture made over the last two decades infiltrate the underground gallery and spill out into the open air.
Alongside cedar, the artist favours other organic materials, cows’ intestines being one of the more unusual. In Pinned Blankets they have been stitched like fabric into blankets, while for Maglownica II, they are stretched over wooden subframes , as if skin undulating over bones.