London’s ‘chewing gum man’ fuses artwork with recycling

Mendacity on a footbridge spanning London’s River Thames, Ben Wilson finalises his newest creation: a miniature portray on chewing gum, caught to the metal construction.

The 57-year-old Englishman has toured the British capital for the previous 15 years sculpting and repainting scraps of gum discarded by passers-by.

However it’s not simply an eccentric pastime. Wilson considers the outcomes “a type of artwork” – in addition to recycling.

“I am reworking the garbage and making it right into a type of artwork, in order that’s a type of recycling,” he mentioned on a sunny morning on the Millenium Bridge within the shadow of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

“(It) is taking a inconsiderate motion and attempting to remodel it hopefully into one thing constructive,” Wilson added, brush in hand.

His vibrant creations, barely larger than a small coin, will be discovered all alongside the pedestrian bridge and within the surrounding space.

Until passers-by look carefully, they’re simple to overlook.

Many are miniature representations of the well-known cathedral close by, whereas others are vivid – virtually psychedelic – drawings, usually signed and dated.

Initially from north London, Wilson began out carving wooden, earlier than turning to chewing gum.

Through the years, his uncommon pastime has earned him the nickname “chewing gum man” – a moniker he has absolutely embraced.

His process is now nicely established.

Wilson will spot previous gum caught to steps, streets and different elements of the city panorama.

Then, out comes his tools: an previous paint-stained blanket to sit down on; bottles of acrylic paints and polish; a burner to soften the gum; and, in fact, a brush.

He’s cautious to keep away from portray on the precise bridge or different floor, in case he’s accused of vandalism by the authorities.

“The one who spat out the gum is the person who created the prison injury,” he famous.

“It is unhappy actually the affect that people have on their setting, the quantity of garbage that we create.”

Pedestrians, some used to the common sight of Wilson working in his paint-flecked jacket, have interaction with him, asking questions or typically taking pictures.

He estimates he has painted “1000’s and 1000’s” of items of gum, and prides himself on having produced his “hidden artwork” throughout central London.

Wilson collaborates with galleries and different artists for some earnings, and refuses any cash supplied to signal individuals’s items of gum.

“It is good to truly create one thing which evolves out of the setting slightly than being imposed on the setting,” he mentioned. – AFP

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