English artist Ben Wilson looks at society and he sees a lot of consumerism and a lot of waste. Instead of contributing to that waste, he takes what others would consider to be trash and transforms it into tiny bits of artwork. His work is all in miniature because Wilson’s sole canvas is the flatten pieces of chewed up gum that people spit on the street.
Wilson began painting on chewing gum in 1998, while also working on larger scale works, but he shifted his focus solely to chewing gum art in 2004 and has created over 10,000 pieces since then. This is art in its purest form, not done for profit, but for creativity’s sake. Wilson mostly works for free, happy that his works gives other people joy. On occasion, he has received commissions such as the Royal Society of Chemistry who hired him to paint 118 gum pieces of the known elements.
His art takes him out onto the streets of London, looking down for the perfect bit of gum to begin his work. When he chooses his canvas, he dries off any excess moisture and lacquers the gum. He then uses acrylic paint to create intricate and colorful artwork, bright and complex for such a small scale. His method of works means that the gum art will last for several years, but should people step on them or they get removed, Wilson doesn’t mind. He says:
Everything is transitory. What is important is the creative process.
See a short film about Wilson and more of his work below: