English urban artist Ben Wilson has made it his mission to make the streets of London more colorful, by painting every piece of old chewing gum he can find on the pavement.
Over the last six years, Wilson has been roaming the streets of London, looking for pieces of chewing gum to turn into miniature works of art. Spitting a piece of gum, rather than throwing it away in a bin, or at least using a tissue is definitely the wrong thing to do, but fortunately, an artist like Ben Wilson can turn the whole situation around, using his talent.
Wearing a paint-covered coat and carrying his trusty paint kit, Ben spends most of his days looking for suitable pieces of gum to turn into artworks. He needs them to be a bit old, so that they lack any moisture, then heats them up and applies lacquers. This makes a much better surface for his acrylic paints and hardens the piece of gum. He paints his own designs, but also gladly accepts commissions from passers-by or institutions like the Royal Society of Chemistry, who asked him to paint 118 themed chewing gum artworks, one for each of the known elements.
Each of his beautiful pavement masterpieces takes between a few hours and days to complete, depending on the level of detail. So far, Ben estimates he has painted around 8,000 pieces of gum throughout London, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, although his passion got him into trouble, a couple of times. He’s been arrested twice, but the charges were eventually dropped, since he wasn’t the one who threw the pieces of gum on the pavement, in the first place.
Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art have made him quite popular around London, and even in distant South Korea, where he was featured on a television show.