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Meet the man behind pieces of chewing gum art appearing around Dundee

An artist from London is making his mark in Dundee by creating tiny artworks on discarded chewing gum on pavements across the city.

Ben Wilson – also known as The Chewing Gum Man – is visiting Dundee and locals have already begun noticing his miniature projects in the city centre and West End.

The 58-year-old’s quirky talent has gained attention elsewhere in the UK and across the world.

Artworks are painted on chewing gum.

Ben’s art was first spotted last week outside the DC Thomson headquarters at Meadowside.

He has since added to that with other city centre pieces while paintings have also appeared on Perth Road.

Ben took time out of his painting to speak to The Courier about his work in Dundee.

He said: “By painting on the chewing gum, I’m taking something that’s thrown away – which is a thoughtless action – and then hopefully transforming it into something more positive.

Ben taking a seat in the city centre.

“It’s a technicality – if you paint on the gum, it’s not criminal damage.

“The person who spat out the gum, they’re the one who created the problem so it allows the art to happen in a spontaneous way.

“I don’t technically need permission from the local government or the national government because it’s not under their jurisdiction – because they don’t own the gum.”

Ben’s love for The Beano

Ben, who has been painting discarded chewing gum for 19 years, is in the city to visit a friend.

He took a liking to the DC Thomson headquarters due to a childhood love for The Beano, with one of his paintings featuring Dennis and Gnasher and another showcasing the Meadowside HQ.

“I love the building and I’ve been an avid reader of The Beano and The Dandy ever since I was a kid,” Ben said.

Ben’s painting of Dennis and Gnasher next to a discarded cigarette butt.

“I’ve seen how the designs have changed over the years but I particularly like the Bash Street Kids and the Three Bears.

“But I thought DC Thomson, the actual building itself, is a rather beautiful classic building so I thought I have to do a Beano-inspired picture.”

Ben says that while he usually gets a positive reaction to his work, it is not always plain sailing.

Previous trouble with police

He said: “Generally speaking I always get a positive response and I think naturally people are inquisitive.

“But I’ve had various court cases. The City of London Police tried to get me on criminal damages and obstruction charges but those both got thrown out.

“The Met actually came out on my behalf and gave witness statements to say they supported what I did.

“One time I was arrested in Trafalgar Square and that was by the Met on that occasion, and I was actually physically handcuffed, but I find it really funny because I found some pictures online and I’m actually looking quite sad while being dragged off.”

Without giving too much away, Ben has hinted he still has a few paintings up his sleeve for other locations across Dundee.

He said: “I’m really enjoying my time here discovering the city and all its secrets, which I’m sure will unfold as I work.

Two more examples of Ben’s Dundee artworks.

“I’m doing a trail of pictures and it’ll be really exciting to see what else happens while I’m working here.

“There’s a lot of my art on Perth Road at the moment, those are the main ones and these ones here [at the Meadowside office] but there will be more in other locations.

“Watch the pavements and see what you can find – you could be walking on a piece of art.”

Dundee graffiti: When does art become vandalism?

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