June 24, 2011 — What do you like to paint on? Paper? Canvas? Ben Wilson likes to paint on … chewing gum that’s stuck to the sidewalk that other people have thrown away. Huh?
Wilson is a well-known artist in England who has painted over 8,000 pieces of gum, turning other people’s trash into little treasures. To see a lot more of his work on flickr, click here .
A painting takes him anywhere from 2 hours to 3 days. First he softens the gum with a blowtorch, sprays it with lacquer, then applies a see-through coating to make it ready. He uses tiny paint brushes and dries his work as he goes with heat from a lighter. Then he seals it again with a coat of clear lacquer when he’s done. Voila.
His themes range and often tell a story about the community. He also takes suggestions from people about what to paint next. A man once asked Mr. Wilson to paint a marriage proposal, which he did!
Why does he do this?
He loves it and it’s creative. He’s also not breaking any laws. But he is trying to make people aware not to litter. He says the discarded gum is unsightly and also bad for the environment (gum doesn’t biodegrade).
But, mainly, he enjoys making new memories with something that was previously long forgotten.