Spare some Change



Irish Artist-designer Ryan Mc Elhinney was born in Dublin in 1973. Classically trained as an Animator, Ryan has worked on many Feature movies in Europe and America for Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox. While working with Arizona-based Fox, a chance reading of the first issue of Wallpaper magazine set him on a different path. “Contemporary design was like a breath of fresh air”, explains McElhinney. A career as a product designer blossomed, along with a love of local thrift and house clearance stores. Trawling for materials quickly became an obsession, with McElhinney’s natural eye and vivid imagination ensuring he spotted the perfect finds to bring to life his early designs. Full of expression and movement, dollar-a-bag sacks of second-hand plastic toys became the designer’s chosen medium. Telling a story with each manipulation, Mc Elhinney meticulously painted and fused together each figure in a six week process, creating the first in his series of ‘Toy’ frames and lamp bases.

Mc Elhinney’s ‘Toy Boy’ series shows young male figures, whose poignant expressions and poses silently tell tales of forced abandoned innocence at War.


“It seems as though every time I turn on the TV or read a paper, another soldier has died or a youth has been shot or stabbed on our streets. As most of the victims are young men, I decided to make a series of sculptures out of salvaged toys depicting these young people. The use of toys represents the youth of the victims and the de-humanisation of a generation bombarded with images, videos and games loaded with scenes of bloody combat. Each sculpture has a set of angel wings representing our immaculate lives at birth; it is only through life that we are tarnished by a world in constant conflict.”

McElhinney continues to push the boundaries of salvaging and re-imagining discarded materials and is currently working on a series of installations using empty shotgun shells to create epic imposing works of art that expand on his theme of War and crime.

"I will make Toy Soldiers and Youth in a number of poses that show emotions of fear, sorrow, arrogance, etc. Theses sculptures will be made from toys that these young victims would have played with over the last 20 years. In each sculpture a light source will be projected as a beam of light i.e. from the tip of a gun of the victims face This beam of light will illuminate a circle on the ground that will contain a message about the victim. In some cases this maybe the victim's name, age, army rank".


"Spare some Change" by Ryan Mc Elhinney

Politics is a war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed. The artwork depicts a homeless person who is a former soldier. He has found himself homeless as a result of his disability and the effects of the horrors he has witnessed on the front line. He has lost both a hand and foot in battle which is replaced here with old brass wheels salvaged from table legs.


The work is based on crime and war that I see in the media. Far too often when we turn on the TV or read a paper, another soldier has died or a youth has been shot or stabbed on our streets.

As most of the victims are young men, Ryan decided to make a series of sculptures out of salvaged toys depicting these young people.

The use of toys represents the youth of the victims.


Each sculpture has a set of angel wings showing that we are all born pure and innocent, but the world we live in - or circumstances beyond our control - creates the path we follow and to which we can fall, the victim. S P A R E S O M E C H A N G E

Spare Some Change depict a former soldier. He has lost both a hand and foot in battle which is replaced here with old brass wheels salvaged from table legs.


No longer able to cope with civilian life as a result of his disability and the trauma he has witnessed at War he has ended up homeless.

Depicts sufferers of PTSD from the effects of war. Some soldiers experience such traumatic effects that the turn to drugs. Alcohol or have mental issues that leave them unable to cope with normal life again. Many of these servicemen end up homeless due to lack of support from their government. This figure is seen with a missing leg and hand which are replaced by brass wheels. His head is bent and he wears a mask to cover his eyes. His hand is outstretched to try to collect spare change.

FORVI VEMEF Forgive me father for I have sinned.

#art #statue #politicalart #soldier #toysoldier #contemporaryart #modernart #humanity #jmartmanagement #RyanMcElhinney

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