Stranger 72 – Ben Wilson, Chewing Gum Artist

If you hang in there your Stranger will present him/herself. Katya and I had spent some time with no stranger portrait success yet. We decided to walk across Millennium Bridge from the St Paul’s end towards to the Tate modern when we saw Ben lying on the bridge painting.

If you walk along the bridge and look down at your feet you will see literally 100’s of tiny little pieces of art. Ben Wilson, is an environmental artist and has painted for many years now in the streets of London. He paints on discarded pieces of Chewing Gum because then technically he is not breaking the law as he is not painting on the public property.

I started chatting with Ben learning about his creation and what struck me was how approachable and friendly he was. He had a great way with people and had time to explain what he was doing while still painting.

I had to ask him for a portrait, and he was more than willing. Now everyone else was taking pictures of him standing up. I decided that I wanted to get down to his level so I lay down as well, it was pretty relaxing. Katya has a great little documentary shot of me taking his pictures.

The problem I had in taking this portrait was that I only had a 85mm lens on me and the bridge wasn’t that wide. It was just about enough for me to get this shot.

Thank you very much Ben for being a part of my project and it was great to see you in action on yours.

Stranger 72 - Ben Wilson

If you are interested you can see an old video about him from the bbc here

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