Friday, July 17, 2020

Imaginary Bread, Chewing Gum and Ben Wilson

I lay in bed this morning and imagined the smell of baking bread that used to waft along early from the bakers. At the time, I had no idea what a luxury that was, and how much I'd miss it when it was gone.
There are still little moments of joy.
Barnet Council ripped up the paving stones that Ben Wilson painted on shortly after he had finished the wonderful community gallery of folk art that was a feature of our High Street. You can't really photograph the experience of walking along and seeing Ben working on a new miniature painting, surrounded by an excited child or two (he did requests), with so many people stopping to say hello and pass the time of day with him.
It was an odd sort of therapy too: just having a pleasant chap around, changing the ugly chewing gum splotches into works of art that materialised in front of your eyes. What a lost treasure, and a lived experience of the trashing of small cultural interventions by a Tory council that wants to steamroller everything that touches real people in its path, as it strives to be an efficient vehicle for capitalism.
On my perambulations yesterday I discovered a lost cache of his paintings, scuffed and muddied (it was so tempting to wipe them, but then the council might find them and eradicate them).
Look carefully at the detail and the world through their little windows, and remember that these are painted on other people's contempt for their environment, matched only by the council's.
These are works of absolute genius, and indeed the concept is absolute genius.
Here they are.

1 comment:

Wilky of St Albans said...

I chatted to Ben once when he was doing his thing outside St Pauls tube station.

I think I distracted him as he set light to his sleeve with his blowtorch.