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Media: Acrylic on wood, populated with 2291 nitrous oxide canisters
Dimensions: 2250 x 769 mm, depth 120 mm
Whilst walking around the local neighbourhood I started noticing small silver canisters littering the streets. Initially I had no idea what they were, but thought they might be used for making soda drinks. I have since learned that these canisters contain nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and are used by caterers as an agent for making whipped cream (hence the name ‘cream puff charger’). However, they are also commonly used amongst young people as a recreational drug, a means of obtaining a legal high.
Cream puff chargers are cheap and easy to buy in store and online. They are known in youth culture by a number of different names: whippit, noz, nang, nossy, hippy crack or Johnson.
The user commonly pierces the foil on the canister and empties the gas into a balloon before inhaling. The effect is a 30 second 'high', which will often be repeated a number of times. Inhaling nitrous oxide can be dangerous (see separate article).
The wood is painted in classic psychedelic colours, representing the effect of experiencing a 'high'.
The letters PUFF are painted in puffy white paint, representing the original intended use of the canister as a cream PUFF charger.
The word PUFF is used ironically, in that this is the exact opposite of what users do… which is inhale.
There is a link to the 1960s drug scene, with the song Puff the Magic Dragon. This song was always thought to be connected to drug use, although the lyricist always denied it.