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London’s chewing gum artist reveals hidden world beneath people’s feet through art

Mendacity on his aspect on the floor of London’s iconic Millennium Bridge, artist Ben Wilson paints a chunk of dried chewing gum trodden into the bottom.

“The vital factor is the gum is under the metallic tread,” mentioned 60-year-old Wilson, wearing a paint-daubed orange jumpsuit. “The great thing about it’s they’re all completely different styles and sizes so there is no conformity.”

What most individuals actively keep away from or just do not see, Wilson views as a possibility to show a tiny piece of discarded garbage into one thing lovely. It is also a solution to delight passersby, attractive them to take a more in-depth look underfoot.

“By portray an image which is so small, those who see it then uncover a hidden world beneath their toes,” Wilson mentioned. “If they appear then they see, so it is about notion.”

Again in his north London studio, Wilson paints on the floor of a small mosaic tile which can be a part of a set that he sticks on the partitions of London’s Underground practice platforms, hidden in plain sight. The photographs are extra private than the chewing gum works, Wilson says, and signify an “intuitive visible diary”.

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“The photographs are a celebration of my life and those who I care dearly about … they’re (additionally) a means of visible inquiry – attempting to make sense of the world,” he mentioned. London-born Wilson was raised by artist dad and mom and recollects working with clay from age three, together with his first artist present at round 10 or 11 years outdated. His art work developed into sculpture and huge items within the pure atmosphere earlier than his curiosity turned to garbage and discarded gadgets from a consumerist world, like chewing gum, which he is been portray for 19 years.

The highest floor of the dried gum is just not topic to native or nationwide jurisdictions, creating an area the place Wilson says he can paint with out defacing public property.

“I discovered this little house the place I may create a type of artwork the place I could possibly be spontaneous and do one thing which evolves out of the place by which it is created,” Wilson mentioned.

The artist has had a lot of his public street art eliminated by authorities – gum from the pavement or tiles from the Underground – however the lots of of gum paintings on Millennium Bridge have been left untouched.

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