Who Owns Our Streets

Filmed over ten years, this is the story of Ben Wilson, celebrated chewing gum artist who is on a mission to create street art across London. Ben paints miniature pictures on used chewing gum, in painstaking detail, transforming waste into art. The law has no jurisdiction over painting on gum and Ben emphasises this on his often hilarious and sometimes harrowing encounters with the police. His work defies the authorities without breaking any laws.

Lying on street pavements, covered in paint, Ben attracts a lot of attention. Crowds of people are drawn to his work, many of whom request pictures. His art reflects a myriad of personal stories from people all over the world. Ben wants to "help people connect with the consequences of their actions." He believes we have lost the ability to see the impact on what we do in our environment.

Ben's dream is to take a trail of pictures from St Pauls Cathedral across the iconic Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern Art Gallery. Tension rises as security confront Ben and try to prevent him from completing his trail. Ben comes up with an ingenious idea to secretly take his trail right inside the Tate Modern. A launch advertised by 'Time Out', attracts hundreds of people who join Ben on a treasure hunt to discover his secret pictures hidden within the walls of the Tate.

While Ben remains an outsider artist on the doorstep of the Tate, he is commissioned to paint on chewing gum by Lord Bird who supports 'The Big Issue" outside The Houses of Parliament. Ben receives permission to paint on chewing gum from the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, who is responsible for maintaining order within the Houses of Parliament.

Will this be enough to convince the police outside The Houses of Parliament that this is not a breach of security? It sets a precedent, if Ben can paint on chewing gum outside The Houses of Parliament, surely he can paint anywhere?

  • Tracey Holloway
  • Robert A Bell
  • Tracey Holloway
  • Ben Wilson
    Key Cast
  • Robert A Bell
    Executive Producer
  • Chris Geden
    Executive Producer
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    45 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 9, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    12,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Tracey Holloway

Award-winning, filmmaker, Tracey Holloway, produces and directs documentary films which reflect our changing world.

Tracey's first documentary 'Arrows Against The Wind', for SBS TV, captured the plight of the tribal people in the remote region of West Papua, attracting international publicity. Due to unprecedented worldwide media coverage, this film scored high ratings. Awarded Best Documentary - National Educational Film Festival, USA.

The acclaimed documentary 'The Last Magician' produced and directed for BBC was broadcast on 'Under The Sun'. A clash of cultures in the Trobriand Islands, played out by three chiefs, with opposing views. Received exceptional reviews including a nomination for Best Documentary - AFI Awards. Distributed by BBC Worldwide.

Tracey went on to direct 'Pig Tusks and Paper Money' for ABC Television. In the volcano town of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, shell money and pig tusks can buy most things. This film is an intimate portrait of a man whose life is devoted to promoting local economies. Distributed by ABC International.

Her focus later widened to Tibet where she was the Associate Producer on the revealing 'Cave In The Snow'. Produced for SBS Television and distributed by TVF International, London, this film is about a woman from Bethnal Green who isolated herself in a remote Himalayan cave where she engaged in twelve years of Buddhist meditation.

As Head of Production at The Media Trust, London, Tracey developed 'Visions', a highly innovative series of social action films. Launched at 10 Downing St, this highly successful series of 25 promos was produced by the advertising industry and broadcast on Channel 5.

Published Work: Author of a book titled 'Fighting for Survival.' Drawing on personal stories, this book explores the traditional life of the Ikho hill tribe and their experience of development in the remote, mountainous region of Northern Laos. Published by Reed International Books.

Radio Programmes: Tracey has produced radio features for ABC Radio National and the BBC World Service.

Post Production: 8 x 10 min films on Aboriginal communities across Australia / Sharing Our Stories

Recently completed is the feature-length art-based factual documentary Who Owns Our Streets

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This documentary follows Ben The Chewing Gum artist for ten years. Ben transforms waste into art. There is no law about painting on chewing gum, so it’s not criminal damage. Ben's mission is to paint a trail of pictures across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern. His biggest obstacles are dealing with the council and the police.

I have adopted a cinema verite style to tell Ben's story and to capture his interactions with members of the public and sometimes hilarious encounters with the police.

My vision for this film was to let the story play out and as a director to show the continuous movement of Ben’s extraordinary journey. This raw act of filming allows the story to unfold, it is compelling, at times dramatic.

It allows the audience to participate and engage in Ben’s journey. There is no narration and the objective is to show
the pure reality of what Ben is experiencing.

The story is highly entertaining yet reveals important truths such as freedom of expression and who owns our public spaces. Ben believes art should be anywhere, not just in galleries, museums or institutions like the Tate Modern.