Steve Wheen knows how to make a statement. He’s a UK based pothole gardener extraordinaire that turns degraded public walkways into works of living art. He says that “he’s not mad,” so he doesn’t create his gardens on the roadways, but to him, it’s “all about creating unexpected moments of happiness,” offering Londoners a respite from all the grey and urban decay they normally are surrounded with.
Where others simply look at the eyesore of a crumbling footpath, Wheen sees an opportunity to create a miniature garden that can inspire and uplift. The artist/guerrilla gardener says that leaving little scenes helps to provoke his audience – any bloke that might be walking by on a random rainy day.
Wheen’s work is ubiquitous throughout London and though he doesn’t necessarily concentrate on growing food, like the famous Ron Finley of Los Angeles, or look to make a statement about urban development as Michael Leung of Hong Kong, Wheen does make you look at your surroundings differently, and ask questions.
People act in very interesting ways when they see a tiny rose garden in the middle of the pavement or miniature fruit trees planted in a small hole just off a busy street. As one passerby said, “It’s quite unusual to see greenery in a concrete jungle. It’s quite nice.”
Another observer commented, “It’s strange because East London is very ‘concretey,’ so I was quite surprised. It’s quite grey today, so it was really nice to see.”
An elderly woman stoops to look closer at hyacinth flowers that Wheen has planted in a pothole surrounded by a desolate street, and she can hardly contain her approval.
Wheen’s activism may come in a small package, but his efforts to green his city, even in this tiny way, make a big statement.
Image Credits: The Pothole Gardener
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