Ben Wilson’s Chewing Gum Art
Ben Wilson finds wads of chewing gum discarded into the streets and sidewalks of London and paints them:
Mr. Wilson, 47, one of Britain’s best-known outsider artists, has for the last six years or so immersed himself in a peculiar passion all his own: he paints tiny pictures on flattened blobs of discarded chewing gum on the sidewalks of London. So familiar is he here, painting in any kind of weather, that he has become something of a local celebrity and mascot.
Wilson has become especially popular with the people of Muswell Hill, where he lives and has done most of his work:
In Muswell Hill, where he lives and which has his largest collection of chewing gum art, his pictures have become a chronicle of the neighborhood, a representation of its residents’ whimsies, sorrows and passions. Among the pictures dotted outside the post office, for example, are an R.I.P. painting for a postman and a picture of a tiger in honor of a postal worker who is from Sri Lanka.
To mark the closing of a Woolworth’s store a couple of years ago, Mr. Wilson crowded every employee’s name onto a piece of gum, along with a good-luck message from the managers. He painted another in which the employees thanked their customers. The two pictures are still there, even though the store is gone.