Exhibition Essays


May 2002


Tom Cardy

BY GUM, it’s art to chew over.

Discarded chewing gum, which most people either see squashed on footpaths or find hidden under tables and chairs, is the subject of a new show at a Wellington gallery.

The exhibition SPAT by artists Regan Gentry and Clemency Boyce consists of $100 worth of different coloured gum which has been pressed flat on the gallery’s floor.  

Visitors can also read information and ideas about chuddy projected on the wall or take in the sickly-sweet smell emanating from the floor.

Despite the amount of gum—bought in bulk in 10 big boxes—neither Mr Gentry of Ms Boyce chewed any of it.  “I did a quick check of the amount of sugar (in each packet) and it grossed me out,” Mr Gentry said. 

Instead they found, depending on the type of gum, that they could soften it into big blobs by heating gum in a microwave oven, on a stove top, or by soaking it in boiling water.  The remaining gum was torn into strips for placement on the floor.

Mr Gentry said a combination of grease-proof paper, cornflour and heat was used to secure the gum splotches in one afternoon.  The fact it was cold helped, as chewing gum gets stickier in warmer weather, he said. 

“I wore rubber gloves because you don’t want bright green fingers.  If it had been summer, it would have been a nightmare.”

Mr Gentry said he had considered making objects out of gum.  However flat, discarded gum was something people saw every day and it could allude to conversations people had while chewing away.  He did not have a problem with people woo would not consider it art.  “ It will stick with people, as it is unusual.


Originally published by The Dominion Post