Benedict Carpenter

Job: Associate Professor

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities and Performing Arts

Research group(s): Fine Art Practices Research Group

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 201 3853




Personal profile

Benedict Carpenter is Associate Head of School of Visual and Performing Arts, and Head of Fine Art. 

Ben trained at Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, graduating with an MA in Sculpture in 1999. He has been awarded the Jerwood Sculpture Prize, exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and completed a number of permanently sited commissions. In 2017 the Jerwood Foundation donated the large steel sculpture Net Form 2 to Oakham School, Rutland, where it is installed at the heart of the campus.

Research group affiliations

Benedict is a member of the Institute of Art and Design at DMU.

Publications and outputs

  • Potential Unlocked: Art in Prison
    Potential Unlocked: Art in Prison Carpenter, Benedict; Knight, Victoria Lecture Title: Potential Unlocked. Participants: Ben Carpenter (ADH) and Victoria Knight (HLS) Description: Potential Unlocked is a collaborative project to deliver visual arts workshops in custodial settings in Leicestershire. Our partners are: Leicester NHS Trust, Soft Touch Arts and HMP Leicester. The project has received c£100k of funding from the Arts Council and others. The aim of the project is to use visual arts workshops to enable the envisioning of alternative futures for inmates suffering poor mental health, as a tool for recovery. Carpenter and Knight are leading the research component. Our method is qualitative research via semi-structured interview. Our research objectives are: • To evaluate the impact of the arts on mental health in custodial and community contexts • To develop appropriate frameworks for gauging mental health recovery in custodial and community contexts The project aligns with UN Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, and UN Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Carpenter, B. and Knight, V. (2018) 'Potential Unlocked: Art in Prison' given as part of ADH's UN Sustainable Development Goals forum on 12th December 2018
  • Artisanal Engines and Virtual Surfaces
    Artisanal Engines and Virtual Surfaces Carpenter, Benedict; Mosscrop, Max This paper considers two objects and the machines that made them: a cloth by Max Mosscrop, which was woven on a loom made by the artist, part of the series Journal (2016); and a Brazilian rosewood dish by David Pye (1980), which was made on a machine of his invention called a Fluting Engine. Mosscrop became interested in woven material because weaving enables the artist to create an expressive surface with no priority between image and support. He chose to make his own loom because this offered him the fullest way of understanding the process. David Pye invented his Fluting Engine sometime in 1949 or 1950. The contribution of this unique invention is that the tool marks radiate from the centre of the bowl. This is in contrast to lathe work where the marks follow the axis of rotation. This paper draws on Pye’s theoretical work on craft and design (1964, 1968). Pye was unusually sensitive to the interdependence of objects and the systems within which they are made and in which they operate. The loom and the Fluting Engine can be understood as systems for the regulation and expression of information. These ideas are latent in Pye’s own studio work, and are explicitly addressed in Mosscrop’s series Journal. In the same way as a punch card encodes the design followed by a Jacquard loom, there is a correspondence between a pattern in a cloth and a binary sequence of 0s and 1s: information can be expressed in multiple forms. This might seem to prioritise intention over realisation, or content over form. However, drawing on Gilbert Simondon’s theory of transduction (1958/1992), and through careful analysis of what actually happens in the making process, this paper demonstrates that weaving and fluting have a self-structuring logic. Close attention to these processes reveals that there is a connection between predetermined information and the contingent and progressive realisation of this information in a material such as wood and thread. This paper shows that in the case of weaving of fluting, matter and information are not oppositional terms. Following Simondon, the bowl and the cloth are best understood as singular crystallisations of a vast and latent potential with which they remain continuous. This is capable of apprehension by the viewer as virtual content, accessible from the surface of these contingent objects. A paper presented at "Apparition: the (im)materiality of modern surface: An interdisciplinary symposium", at Leicester Castel Business School, De Montfort Univesity, Leicester, 9th March 2018; convened by Design Cultures (De Montfort University) and Fashion Research Network. Carpenter, B. and Mosscrop, M. (2018) Artisanal Engines and Virtual Surfaces. Apparition: the (im)materiality of modern surface / An interdisciplinary symposium. DMU Leicester, 9th March 2018
  • thing-soul
    thing-soul Carpenter, Benedict This short chapter addresses the recent work of British sculptor Cathie Pilkington. Her work is discussed in the context of Benjamin's ideas of aura, and Rilke's earlier text On Dolls. These are reframed with reference to more recent works on image theory and affective response. The catalogue is copyright Marlborough Fine Art. Carpenter, B. (2014) 'thing-soul' In: Pilkington, P. thing-soul. London: Marlborough Fine Art, unpaginated
  • Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: The views and preferences of donor families
    Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: The views and preferences of donor families Walker, Wendy; Sque, Magi; Carpenter, Benedict; Roberts, Suzanne Each year, thousands of lives are transformed in the UK due to the contribution of organ and tissue donors and their families (DH 2008). Honouring the gift of donation was endorsed by the Organ Donation Taskforce (Department of Health 2008). A key recommendation was the need for research to establish the means of recognition that most donor families would appreciate. Locally, the Organ Donation Committee at Royal Wolverhampton Trust (RWT) identified funding for a public memorial that would serve as recognition of donors’ and families’ contribution to saving or improving the lives of others. We therefore proposed an exploratory study to elicit donor families’ views and preferences on appropriate ways of personally and publicly recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation. To our knowledge, this study was one of the first to examine this important issue in detail. Three main themes were identified: (1) Recognising the gift; (2) The meaning of recognition and (3) Realising recognition. Together they represent the views and opinions of donor families. The research team have confidence in the study findings to recommend a public memorial at RWT to honour the gift of donation, as desired by donor families. The artwork should use conventional forms to convey meaning without being formal or formulaic. The overall mood of the object should be celebratory, transmitting a sense of joy and pride. The study participants favoured permanence and the use of natural materials without applied colour. The location should be somewhere that offers the space to engage with the artwork in a contemplative manner. We suggest that the best way of realising the work is to specify a very tight brief that responds to the properties identified above, and then advertise for craftspeople and artists to realise the work within a budget. Conclusion This study provided valuable insight into donor families views and preferences on appropriate ways of personally and publicly recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation. The results of our investigation associated the act of organ and tissue donation with gift-giving, established the meaning of recognition for donor families and identified ways in which recognition of the gift may be realised. Several contributors to the donation process were identified as worthy of recognition. The perceived utility of recognition in the context of deceased donation draws attention to the importance of further research to test the efficacy of the different forms of recognition in the public domain. Walker, W., Sque, M., Carpenter, B. and Roberts, S. (2014) Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: The views and preferences of donor families. Final report submitted to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Organ Donation Committee, February.
  • The Value of the Hand
    The Value of the Hand Carpenter, Benedict Carpenter, B. (2012) The value of the Hand. The Medal, 60, pp. 29-37
  • Net Form
    Net Form Carpenter, Benedict This permanently-sited sculptural intervention, funded by the EU Leader + programme, makes a contribution to understanding the implicitly kinetic nature of sculptural experience, and the relationship between object and site. The sculpture is constructed in mild steel, and was made in response to its particular location in Spain. It led to two further invitations for kinetic sculptures by the Jerwood Foundation (Pod, Oakham school, Rutland, UK) and the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative / Arts Council England (Form on a Beam, Shropshire, UK). Carpenter, B. (2008) Net Form

Click here to view a full listing of Benedict Carpenter's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Benedict’s research interests are in fine art, craft, art medals, sculpture, and figurative arts. Please view Benedict’s blog for more information:

Honours and awards

  • 2013 – 2016  Honorary Research Fellow, Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton

Membership of professional associations and societies

2009 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Consultancy work

Board Memberships

2017    Present    Trustee of Phoenix (Leicester Arts Centre Ltd)

2017    Present    Chair of of Contemporary Visual Arts Network, East Midlands

2014    2017         Steering-group member (Higher Education) of Contemporary Visual Arts Network, East Midlands

2011    2014        Artist Secretary, British Art Medal Society

2012    2013        UK Delegate to Fédération Internationale de la Médaille d’Art