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Ryan Hawaii Dazed 100
Photography Hanna Moon, styling Ibrahim Kamara

Artist Ryan Hawaii opens his most ambitious show

Titled Made From Dirt, the exhibition combines the south Londoner’s bespoke garms alongside his art. Here he talks about giving new life, channelling emotions and making it up as he goes

You’d be pushed to find a young London artist embodying an authentic essence of DIY culture more than south Londoner Ryan Hawaii. Over the past few years, the artist/musician has been making a name for himself thanks to his talent for turning second-hand items into new pieces and/or works of art and selling them through Catford Factory – a moniker for his studio space and its online iteration. Whether he’s printing homemade slogans such as “DAVID CAMERON HATES THE MANDEM” on t-shirts or doing bespoke, one-off paint jobs over old leathers and denim, Hawaii is pure punk.

Alongside co-signs from Skepta (who he met at a party) and Virgil Abloh (whose Selfridges display he mounted a takeover with his own garms at), Hawaii started off the year with a place on the Dazed 100. Now he’s back with his most “ambitious show” to date, hosted at Fortysevenldn. Titled Made From Dirt and curated by Eldon Somers, Hawaii says it’s a nod to his humble beginnings.

Ongoing until Monday 5 June, as the artist recovers from a successful launch last night, we talk to him about giving new life to old objects, channelling his emotions, and making it up as he goes.

“I love when people come up with their own interpretations for my work and use their own mind to try and see where I’m coming from” – Ryan Hawaii

This is, in your words, your "most ambitious" show to date – can you expand on why that is?

Ryan Hawaii: Because it is the first time I have ventured out of my comfort zone and into different mediums such as collage, 3D relief work, and installation (co-created with Eldon Somers).

For those who can't make it, tell us about the show.

Ryan Hawaii: The entire space is made up of three rooms: the upstairs room is a mixture of collage works on recycled packaging, and clothing pieces which correspond to the collages themselves. The first of two rooms in the basement is a pop-up shop with handpainted garments exhibited on the walls. And the third room is a large installation by Eldon Somers, using my work.

What's the idea behind the title Made From Dirt?

Ryan Hawaii: It is representative of myself and many of my peers we have come from humble beginnings, therefore, we are 'made from dirt'.

Do you use second-hand materials and objects due to a desire to be sustainable and to recycle, or is it more aesthetics driven?

Ryan Hawaii: It is a mixture of the two, I like to give these objects a new life and path. There is a certain beauty in making an army surplus overall into a piece of artwork that a millennial would like to wear. When you use second-hand or recycled objects there is a large element of mystery involved which I really enjoy.

How did you begin working with Eldon and how has working together been?

Ryan Hawaii: We met through Shem the gallery manager and it has been great, he's a very smart guy and has an exceptional eye, we worked together on the curation of the exhibition as well as the overall look of the shop and the installation.

What do you hope people see when they view your art?

Ryan Hawaii: I hope they would look for the small messages and hints relating to world events or personal thoughts/feelings, but mostly I love when people come up with their own interpretations for my work and use their own mind to try and see where I’m coming from.

Would you say there is a divide between your work as Ryan Hawaii, the artist, and your role/involvement in Neverland Clan?

Ryan Hawaii: I would say all the work musically or visually is in the same vein – the music and my peers influence the artwork and vice-versa.

When creating art is it something that's more fluid and spontaneous, or is it more of a planned out procedure?

Ryan Hawaii: I don't plan much, I usually come up with a subject which has been on my mind lately and focus that energy on whatever I'm working on.

You're very proud to hail from and live in south London – how have your surroundings influenced your work?

Ryan Hawaii: The mix of people from all different walks of life around me as a constant definitely influences my work, snippets from conversations, the colours that I see, and the beauty in the grittiness of it all goes into everything I do.

In an interview with The Basement recently you admitted to being "bare emotional", would you say this is reflected in your art?

Ryan Hawaii: I think any artist is an emotional and sensitive person, and that their work is an expression of those deepest feelings.

What's next? What's coming up this year for you?

Ryan Hawaii: More work, branching out into larger scale pieces, music and something big later this year.

Made From Dirt runs until 5 June at Fortysevenldn, 47 Denmark Hill, SE5 8RS