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Ben's Chewing Gum Art
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First things first: I take no personal credit for this post. The text is paraphrased from an article on www.thisislocallondon.co.uk and the photos are stolen from rahid1's flicker photoset which can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/rahid1/sets/286517/
Ben Wilson, 41, originally from Barnet, but now living in Muswell Hill, London paints pictures faces, animals, suns, name it and he will do it on pieces of discarded gum all the way from Barnet to the West End of London.
"I'm just going to keep going and see how far I get," said Mr Wilson, who started his quest at the Hadley end of High Street, Barnet. "I use acrylic paint and varnish, then I've got a little burner to dry it. I've done different pictures cups of tea, elephants, flowers I do requests as well. Often I just draw whatever takes me on that day."
Mr Wilson said he has had a number of people stop and look at his work and most have praised him for trying to beautify what is, ultimately, just rubbish on our pavements. He also denies accusations it draws attention to the gum.
"I'm not defacing the pavement, it is more sensitive than that. I don't want to get in people's faces I'm not a graffiti artist. You get so many reactions from people, their reactions are so different, but rarely are they negative."
Mr Wilson's idea to get down on his hands and knees to paint gum people have spat out on the floor is not just a bizarre manifestation of a mid-life crisis. He has already done the same thing in Holloway Road. Nor does he restrict himself to gum. He has spent time abroad in America and Finland doing what he calls large-scale construction' and has also done some sculpting (one of his works is proudly displayed outside his mother's house in Barnet).
More than a month after starting at the top end of High Street, Barnet, he has progressed less than a quarter-of-a-mile southwards, despite working more or less five days a week. So does he really think he can make it all the way into the centre of London?
"We'll see," he said. "I'm just going to keep drawing and see where the momentum takes me."
I deliberately haven't posted more photos here so as not to steal anyone's fire so to speak. The full photoset is viewable here: www.flickr.com/photos/rahid1/sets/286517/
This article has been viewed 22436 times in the last 7 years
Catherine Penfold-Waxman: 22nd Mar 2006 - 17:06 GMT
Thanks for drawing our attention to this. I'm off for a good look at beautified gum.
Laura : 22nd Mar 2006 - 18:49 GMT
That's so neat. Wish he'd do some work on the MTA- lots of "material" for him there!
Micah: 23rd Mar 2006 - 15:41 GMT
Lots of his gum paintings remind me of Hundertwasser, with all the colours and swirls and things (though no spirals); also in his intent to beautify things which might not be inherently beautiful. Fun! And such dedication!
jeeff: 23rd Mar 2006 - 18:53 GMT
i like how you posted this jamie. we can point to you as the new posting role model.
Karl: 1st May 2006 - 10:29 GMT
I am an artist, not an artiste.
Beautify that which needs beautification - not the beautificator.
aimee: 16th Mar 2007 - 12:27 GMT
i think its brilliant that art can be made from other peoples rubbish!
Stevie: 9th Apr 2007 - 10:57 GMT
ben done a piece for me just outside woolworths in muswell hill and its spectacular
Liz: 19th Jul 2007 - 08:26 GMT
I do belive a few locals looked at me with vague ridicule as I took photos of this intricate art yesterday while being remarkably touristy in London. I intend to show my art teacher when term starts and I hope to inspire a school project of sorts.
Steph R: 9th Oct 2007 - 18:36 GMT
I love this art because it stops people sticking to the chewing gum and it looks brighter.
The art and it is a good way to make people be aware about gum issues.
bd: 12th Jan 2008 - 18:44 GMT
It is a very different type of art that i like and other people will like it also makes people look at the ground and see the mess that they are making of our streets
Jamie: 16th Jan 2009 - 17:01 GMT
charlie holt: 7th Aug 2011 - 08:19 GMT
i was standing by the clocktower in crouch end.......to my right was a photographer on her hands and knees.....as i asked what she was doing .......i realizes id found the chewing gum artist......i had read about him some years earlier.......they are fantastic little paintings quietly sitting on the ground....mostly un noticed........the day after i went to muswell hill.....a spent a fascinating couple of hours looking at the pavements......
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