A photo of Ben Wilson in orange overalls painting a piece of chewing gum on the Millennium Bridge

Artist set to lose hundreds of paintings as Millennium Bridge shuts

An artist is set to lose the majority of his paintings on the Millennium Bridge when it closes for urgent repairs on October 14.

Ben Wilson, 60, an environmental artist known as the ‘chewing gum man’, has spent more time on the Millennium Bridge than most, turning discarded chewing gum into art since 2013.

He has created two trails which run from the north end of the bridge to the Tate Modern, creating over 600 pieces of work. However, when the bridge closes on Saturday, only 75 paintings will be saved.

Wilson said: “The art that happens in the street is just as important as the art within a museum.

“The beauty of this art is that it can happen because the gum is everywhere so you can make a form of art which is spontaneous and alive.”

Wilson decided to start painting chewing gum because it was a way of taking something which has been spat out and discarded, and turning it into something positive.

He explained: “By painting a picture on the millennium bridge and on the gum, you’re making a hidden world.

“If you look it exists but if you don’t, it’s not there. How close you look determines what you see – it’s creating a magical world.”

A yellow, purple, blue and orange slogan painting which says "save the millennium bridge chewing gum art trail art".
A sticky situation

His paintings are inspired by their environment and each one celebrates the people who Wilson has met while working.

The secret world which Wilson has created underneath our feet means so much to people and it has touched those from all walks of life who are devastated that the majority of the trail will be lost.

Wilson emphasised: “[the trail] is art and it needs to be celebrated”.

He has been painting on chewing gum for the past 19 years. He works all over the UK and Europe.

Chewing gum isn’t the only material he works with, but his work is always spontaneous and inspired by its environment.

Featured image courtesy of Ben Wilson

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles