From the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association
Local resident and famed gum painter, Ben Wilson, was born in Cambridge and grew up in Barnet. He has lived in Muswell Hill for 25 years and is a familiar face in the area. His tiny paintings on the discarded gum which litters our streets are his way of working with the environment and transforming it in a delightful way. Ben attended an Arts Foundation course at Middlesex University and was offered places at various art colleges but preferred to develop his skills in his own individual style. The university supported him to work in its grounds. He began with wood sculpture, using fallen wood, and then moved on to gum painting. As he paints on existing ‘litter’ he is not technically inflicting criminal damage but transforming a negative action into a positive result. Ben has a huge portfolio of requests from passers-by who may ask for dedications, declarations of love, and a variety of messages personal to them. He tries to fulfil them all. This is the main impetus for his work, the fact that he is relating both to people and his environment and providing social commentary. His art attracts a lot of interest locally, nationally and internationally – his work can be seen all over the world. His fondness for Muswell Hill lies in the village atmosphere, the variety of people he meets on the street, the individual shops, the nearby woodlands and the panoramic views over London, a city he loves. There is a wealth of information about Ben, including images and videos, on the internet – just search for Ben Wilson chewing gum man! But also look carefully next time you are rushing around shopping or visiting the bank. Take a moment to absorb and enjoy the miniature world that Ben has created for us all.