One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
This is certainly the case when it comes to Ben Wilson aka Chewing Gum Man – an artist who, for the last 14 years, has been transforming the discarded chewing gum on Millenium Bridge into tiny works of art.
“The beauty of it for me is finding a space where the art can happen. It’s like finding no man’s land or common ground. It’s a space where something in a spontaneous way can happen, ” says Ben.
When I meet him he’s working on a little picture of a whale and a human who seem to be communicating via some sort of silver orb.
This is just one of the hundreds of miniscule artworks which are dotted about the bridge, many of which are commissions.
But turning rubbish into beauty doesn’t come without it’s perils.
Ben has been arrested several times for criminal damage but the prosecution has always lost due to the fact that he’s not painting on the bridge but rather the gum stuck to it.
“Technically by painting on the chewing gum it’s not criminal damage.
“The gum is not under the jurisdiction of the local or national government, ” he explains.
Ben’s art isn’t just confined to Millenium Bridge in London.
He’s also worked in Senja, Norway, Tilburg in the Netherlands, Brussels and Belgrade to name a few.
Aside from being nice to look at, Ben’s work raises the wider issue of environmental pollution and how we perceive waste.
He adds: “I suppose it raises questions of consumerism.
“To me it’s how society is just teaching people to consume rather than to care.
“Rubbish is just a concept, it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s valuable resources.”
To see the Chewing Gum Man’s work just look down the next time you’re crossing Millenium Bridge.