Don’t step in Ben Wilson’s paintings

Ben Wilson paints on chewed up pieces of gum that are stuck to the ground. He’s been doing this for the past six years in Muswell Hill, an area in North London. Wilson used to be a street artist, painting on billboards and advertisements, but this didn’t sit too well with the authorities. Fortunately, painting on chewing gum isn’t illegal. It allowed him to work spontaneously anywhere in London without having to obtain permission. “Our environment is very controlled and what we need so very strongly is diversity. Even galleries, museums, publishing companies are all very controlled. I want to be able to do my work and to bypass bureaucracy,” he asserts. Now he can be seen spending as long as ten hours lying next to a discarded piece of gum. He softens the gum with a blowtorch, sprays it with lacquer and then applies three coats of acrylic enamel. Using tiny brushes, he then quick-dries it with a lighter as he goes, and then seals it with clear lacquer. Each painting takes between a few hours and a few days, and can last several years if the conditions are right.
Next up, “How to frame chewing gum.”

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