Ben’s Gumpics

Ben Wilson is known for his brightly-coloured artworks. They are unusual in as much as they are created on chewing gum, which is stuck to the pavement, having been flattened by many passing shoes. They are, of course, miniatures. Many of such artworks can be found on the pavements of Muswell Hill in North London. He agreed for a sample of them to be displayed on the site. He hopes to get a bit more exposure for the artworks; but also some feedback and even some engagement in the form of a discussion, as to their purpose and success.

GUMPIC 1 – David, Luciane, Luiza and Sofia.

JL interviewed Ben Wilson by ‘phone.  JL took notes during the interview and they are written up here. BW has had the chance to read and edit them, as he sees fit. Both of them had the above picture in view during the interview for easy reference.

Ben said that he remembered the picture well. It was created in 2018, as indicated. It is to be found in front of the Muswell Hill Toyshop on the Broadway. David and Lucien are the parents of Luisa and Sofia, their 2 daughters. The picture was requested by the parents to celebrate a family visit to the toyshop. The picture shows the 2 daughters, a unicorn and the date.

The picture has no title. Like the rest of Ben’s pictures it derives from a social context, such as a request, as in this case. Ben likes his pictures to evolve with their own life and existence. He does not like to feel them to be constrained in any way, even by way of a title. However, he agrees for me to call them ‘gumpics’ and number them to make it easier for people to access and to navigate round them on the blogsite. 

Ben does not grade his gumpics nor is prepared to give them ratings. In fact, he makes no judgemental/assessment distinctions of this kind at all between them. Rather, they are intended to celebrate the requester and the subject matter, as here. However, each gumpic has its own particular format, history and territory. 

For example, this Gumpic 1 occupies a very ‘good’ place on the Broadway, that is, in front of the toyshop, which is a very popular place for shoppers and their children and so is easily seen by many passing people. The gumpic is quite ‘solid’ and for this reason has lasted well. The technique is ‘OK’. The painting was ‘pleasing’ to do. It has an ‘interesting’ structure – circles within circles and ‘bright’ colours – red, yellow, green, white etc. The composition is also interesting, comprising – names, numbers and in particular children and a unicorn (much beloved of children according to Ben). The whole gumpic – ‘fits well together’. It took Ben about 2-3 hours to complete.

Ben was ready to say more about the general aspects of his art, how it came to be like it is, his approach and framework, his values and understanding of it. However, JL preferred for these more general aspects to be addressed little by little during further future characterisation of other gumpics.

Ben Wilson (July, 2014; July 2018) – ‘CWTCH Dragon’

Ben Wilson – ‘Leona, Debbie, Emma and Sarah’

Ben Wilson (2017) ‘Harith and Okhail’

Ben Wilson – ‘Julia, Ali, Wesam and Maya’

Ben Wilson (2019) ‘Chewing Gum Picture – Jon, Kazi, Amy, Muswell Hill Police’

Ben Wilson (2018) – ‘Renee and Ivan’

Ben Wilson (2019) – ‘Mountain Walking in Snow’

Leave a Reply

Close Menu