December 08, 2010

Ben Wilson, Wooden structures and decorated chewing gum

 
 sleeping figure, 1986

Above wooden structure, realized in 1986 by Ben Wilson (b. 1963) in the woods near the community of New Barnet, north of London, is not extant anymore.

picture from the detour art website

Life and works

Ben Wilson was born in Cambridge. The family moved to New Barnet. It was an artistic family, and young  Wilson probably felt attracted to making art. However he was not very much inspired by formal art courses. Instead of following the lessons at the Middlesex Polytechnic, he would rather wander in the woods.

So he followed his own direction, going out in the nature and making big sculptures from materials which are freely available in the woods. He made all kinds of big wooden personalities, chapel like structures, and so on.

In the nineteen-eighties, nineties and the early years of the twentieth century Ben Wilson focused upon making wooden creations, often large constructions realized o the spot in the open air. 

However, he also made smaller creations by carving and painting found wooden materials.

In 2003 Wilson made a trip to Finland, where he created a wooden structure for the Kaustinen Folk Art Museum.
 



 
 two pictures of the wooden structure, a chapel, 
made by Wilson for the Kaustinen Museum of Modern Folk Art, Finland, 
courtesy of Minna Haveri

From 2003-2004 , working in a local London coffee shop, he made a series of black and white paintings.

His creative activity, mainly his work with wooden structures,  earned him some fame in the circle of outsider art enthusiasts in the United Kingdom. So he was one of the artists selected to participate in the British Outsider Art exposition in the Halle Saint Pierre in Paris (2008).

By that time, however, Ben Wilson had been looking for other ways of artistic expression. He tried graffiti by decorating public bill boards, but this would give him a lot of problems with the police.

In 2004 he began decorating small pieces of chewing gum that were dropped on the street.

This he has been doing since, creating some 10.000 small decorations on the pavement, starting in New Barnet and then heading towards central London.  A november 2010 BBC video shows him at work in the streets.

His work has raised a lot of publicity in human interest style.

  picture (2004) from the website this is local london

Making these small pieces of visual art can be seen as a very special specimen of street art.

Anyhow Ben Wilson is creatively redefining his place of living (and if you read the interview on Christina's blog, you'll notice that by doing this he gets into close contact with people around, policemen, residents, youngsters, shopkeepers....).

Like other creations in the realm of outsider environments, these decorated chewing gums might not withstand the test of time, what also happened to the wooden structures in the woods, which  already have disappeared.

Documentation 
* an interview with Ben Wilson (sept 2009) on Christina's blog
* article in Wikipedia, in english, general introduction and a number of references
* gallery of decorated chewing gums on Flickr (one out of a number)
* video by Sara Pigozo Beautiful chewing gum (Youtube, 9'09", uploaded march 2014)


Recent expositions
* the for one week only gallery had an exposition, early may 2011, showing Wilson's gum paintings and other recent work
* Julia Elmore curated an exposition (sept-nov 2011) at The Nellie Dean of Soho in Dean Street, London, with a giant wooden figure and his pastel drawings made between 1999 and 2001 (see comments)

Ben Wilson  
Wooden structures/decorated chewing gum  
in and around New Barnet, UK 
structures in the woods no longer extant

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fascinating fellow ! Would love to have one like that in my back yard...

    Hope you are well Henk, I've been quietly going crazy at work, and not keeping up with all the blogs as I'd like... but sooner or later I always come back to see what you've been up to...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ben Wilson and I installed one of his large sculptures Upstairs at The Nellie Dean of Soho in Dean Street London, this afternoon... a temporary installation, the giant wooden figure is currently propping up the bar. Tomorrow I am hanging an exhibition there to showcase Ben's beautiful pastel drawings which he worked on between 1999 and 2001. There are many connections between the wooden works and these pastel pieces. Do come along and see the show if you are able: 20 September to 20 November, 2011.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Уважаемый Хенк Большое спасибо!!!

    ReplyDelete