It is his wood carvings that attracted me to see more of his work. I've always had a fondness towards school desks, I even own the 1950s twin lidded school desk with ink wells that I sat at during primary school. In the late 80s, our school decided to get rid of the "old fashioned" furniture and replace it with horrible plastic stuff, and so my parents bought it for me. I love the feeling of being sat at it and freely graffiting!
Anyway, back to Ben...his most recent work is a reflection of America's fascination with gun culture: it's a beautiful juxtaposition of school children innocence (and their boredom doodles) against the sad reality that guns and harmful weapons have infiltrated our societies. They are all aptly named Lesson 1, Lesson 2 etc.
I also like the fact that he has used salvaged school desks, as their pen-marked scribbles and markings make for great backgrounds and canvases. There are seven desk tops in total including weapons such as western styled guns, grenades and futuristic/space-age guns. The weapons are intricately part-carved out of the desk lid and they gently surface out of the woodwork. I don't know what technique he has used to create these works of art, but it's impressive. I even like his signature that is carved on the bottom left of the canvas.
He is definitely out to shock, turning the innocence of boys toys and school life to the dangers and corruption of firearms. He explains why toys are central to his work: ‘Force fed on violence, abused by a controlling superpower and blackmailed through patriotism, the public are ultimately as disposable as the toys they once played with’.