It’s clean, pure and uncluttered and I like only the most simple and pure materials around me.
Ryan McElhinney has managed to make a career out of turning his passion for the unwanted, unused and abandoned into the desireable and meaningful and has sold his work to collectors around the world. It is an enviable position for any artist to be in. His lamps, mirrors and sculptures made from unwanted toys pieced together and sprayed with plastic have been commissioned by numerous private collectors as well as prestigious design stores including Mint, Liberty and Lane Crawford. He is also a successful interior designer and lives in a two bedroom apartment in South London that has a sleek, minimal interior.
“When I’m at home I like it to be somewhere I can’t be distracted so I only have neutral tones like black and brass or gold,” he explains. “It’s clean, pure and uncluttered and I like only the most simple and pure materials around me.” In the open plan living room and kitchen, the smooth textures of bespoke ebony veneered kitchen units and a stone counter balance a battered farmhouse kitchen table and vintage leather chairs bought from an antique shop in Belgium.
Piles of art books are carefully placed around the room and each object has been consciously curated. It is a world apart from his busy artist’s studio with its piles of gun cartridges, paint canisters and second hand toys.
McElhinney’s latest works are eye catching and emotive in equal measure. A series of sculptures depicting child gang members and destitute soldiers made from his trademark unwanted toys make emotive viewing while large scale works based on the death letters written by soldiers to their loved ones and fashioned from spent gun cartridges carry a serious message about the cost of war.
His latest large-scale works are bold and colourful and are the only colour that is allowed into his home. “I can’t relax with too much colour around me,” he explains. “It makes me feel stressed. When I’m here I just need to relax and unwind with friends so I try to leave my work at the studio.”