It takes some kind of imagination to view a discarded piece of chewing gum as a potential canvas. I love the story of British “outsider” artist Ben Wilson, because it contains myriad elements of creativity in its paradoxical melding of art and a medium that would definitely be considered something less so. For the last few years, Wilson has occupied the streets of north London, primarily in the area of his neighborhood of Muswell Hill, hunched over pavements, painstakingly crafting mini flights of fancy (over 10,000 at last count) out of tossed-off litter. The detail he achieves on the squashed globs of gum, brought to life on the cement, below, is pretty remarkable, leaving a colorfully dotted landscape amidst the dreary sidewalks of the English capital (and other parts of the UK and Europe). Wilson’s work may add meaning to the adage, “one man’s garbage is another man’s art,” but more importantly, it brings beauty to blight, and offers yet a new way to see.

Ben Wilson, plying his craft on the streets of London