Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Wonder: Art Under Feet

Art is found sometimes in the unlikeliest of places, even beneath your feet, especially if you happen to be out and about in London. Street artist Ben Wilson stretches our vision of art, specifically street art, because  every weekday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., no matter the weather, he's down on hands and knees focusing his attention on sidewalks' stickiest matter: discarded blobs of chewing gum. 

Wilson is England's "Chewing Gum Man" and, by his estimates, he has turned more than 8,000 bits of cast-off and hardened gum into proper miniature artworks, some taking him two to three days to complete; he documents every one. He's been arrested for his "criminal mischief", although it seems that at least a few Bobbies will smile and leave him to his business. Londoners themselves often pause to watch Wilson at work, a few even going so far as to commission something from him. His, arguably, has to be the world's worst unpaid job but you won't hear Wilson complaining. In fact, he appears to have the sunniest of dispositions, a wry humor, a more than steady hand, and a wonderful attitude toward sharing his creativity with the masses. Wilson has his own admiration society on FaceBook, too. Take that you multi-million-dollar artists!

Below is a video, from 2009, of Wilson at work. Another, more recent one by the BBC is here

Go here to see images of some of the many chewing gum artworks Wilson has created. You'll find here a photo, by Lee Stephens, of Wilson at work, taken for Stephens' "100 Strangers" project. 

And those of you who'd like a few fascinating facts to go with your chewing gum art, go here.


Louise Gallagher said...

How brilliant!

Another artist I'd never heard of and another art form I'd never imagined!

Thanks once again Maureen for opening my mind to the amazing wonders of the world.

And doesn't his back get sore? My of my -- his art is quite lovely too!

A. Jay Adler said...

"A sticky business, that," I think the English might say.

Kathleen Overby said...

"you can't really go back from painting blobs"

This made me smile and tear up simultaneously. What a life he has created. I fell in love with this fellow.

katdish said...


I absolutely loved this. Thanks, Maureen.