History: in Benson's words

I decided the time was right to retire to my first love – playing with plasticine!

My working life began at 14 when my father insisted I should ‘learn a trade’. I reluctantly began my apprenticeship in his clothing workroom, learning pattern cutting, machinery and gaining an understanding of the world of fashion and design. My father made it clear that it would be better for me to learn the family trade; however, I had always had aspirations to become an artist since playing with plasticine and spending many hours drawing as a young child.

At the age of 18, I was conscripted to the RAF for 2 years. During this time, there was a small workshop on the base where I was surrounded by pastels, paper and all sorts of materials that allowed me the freedom to indulge in my love of drawing. Afterwards it was back to the grindstone of the clothing factory, which my father now owned. Getting married at 21, made me want to provide for my wife Ruth and I decided to set up my own business with just a sewing machine and a tailoress in my attic at home.

Within weeks, I had taken my first order for a full handmade outfit and received 10 guineas for it. By the 1970s my couture business in ladies fashion was flourishing, employing over 50 staff and supplying to some of the most prestigious retailers including Harrods and Dickens and Jones. After 25 successful years designing and creating, I decided the time was right to retire to my first love – playing with plasticine!

Working from a small studio in my Southport home, I bought wax and tools and began to teach myself the skills of a sculptor. Within months, I had designed a collection of 8 sporting bronze trophies which were showcased at the 1981 Open Golf Championship. The entire collection was taken up by Garrards The Crown Jewellers. From this, I was introduced to a number of fine art galleries, and for the next 15 years worked mainly on commissions, and have never looked back!

Sculpting is my passion, my meditation.

I continue to spend most days working from my studio now in Cheshire, usually to an accompaniment of classical music. I usually have a clear idea in my head of how a sculpture will look and can visualise it in its finished form. Without doubt, my career as a couturier has allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of the female form and its characteristic grace and elegance, which I hope translates across to my bronzes.

Sculpting is my passion, my meditation. I feel lucky to have been given a natural talent and being totally self taught, I have had the confidence to express my individuality. I get immense pleasure from my work – but my real satisfaction comes from knowing it has touched other people’s lives.