Virtual Design Festival

"Make art happen" is the mission of specialist foundry UAP
UAP helped artist Idris Khan render his Wahat Al Karama monument in recycled aluminium derived from decomissioned armoured vehicles

Specialist foundry UAP aims to "make art happen"

VDF studio profile: UAP is an international production and metal workshop that is responsible for creating everything from large-scale public art or architecture commissions to the iconic Oscars statuettes for the Academy Awards.

The foundry has a history of collaborating with well-known figures in the art world. It was responsible for creating Idris Khan's Wahat Al Karama memorial in Abu Dhabi, as well as the first public sculpture of American artist Kehinde Wiley, who painted Barack Obama's presidential portrait.

UAP was founded in Brisbane, Australia, 27 years ago by brothers Daniel and Matthew Tobin, and has since expanded to include a team of 250 people across the company's Shanghai and New York workshops as well as its operations in the Middle East.

Its technicians and craftspeople are capable of casting larger-than-life installations in three dimensions using materials including bronze, stainless steel, ductile iron, aluminium and copper as well as precious metals such as silver and gold.

Kehinde Wiley's Rumors of War was presented by Times Square Arts in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Sean Kelly. Photograph courtesy of Ka-Man Tse.

"UAP has developed its expertise gradually and our ability to deliver high-quality outcomes emerges from the entire team's ability to develop strong working relationships with the artists and clients," said Matthew Tobin.

"At the heart of this global operation is the drive to make art happen and every team member's dedication to find common ground and facilitate the journey of the artist."

Among the company's most well-known projects is Wiley's Rumors of War, which reimagines the historical monument of a US Confederate general on horseback with a young African-American man in the saddle.

Standing at just over eight metres tall and five metres wide, the installation was initially set up in Times Square before being moved to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

"Make art happen" is the mission of specialist foundry UAP
The Selfie Panda sculpture by Florentijn Hofman was installed in the city of Dujiangyan in China

According to Matthew Tobin, the Shanghai studio is responsible for some of the company's "most adventurous commissions", including a gigantic metal rendering of a panda taking a selfie, envisioned by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman as an evolution of his enormous Rubber Duck installation from 2013.

The studio also manufactured British artist Khan's Wahat Al Karama or Oasis of Dignity monument, which was longlisted for a Dezeen Award in 2018 as well as winning an Iconic Award for Architecture from the German Design Council.

At 90 metres long, the installation consists of a series of towering slabs that are lined up like dominoes and made from aluminium that was extracted and recycled from decommissioned armoured vehicles.

Ngarunga Nangama, also known as Calm Water Dream, is a sandstone mural created for the lobby of an office building that stands atop the former Tank Stream

Back in Australia, the company also collaborated with Aboriginal artist Judy Watson to create Ngarunga Nangama – a 300-square-metre sandstone mural that visualises the course of Sydney's historic Tank Stream, which today lies buried underneath its central business district.

On a smaller scale, UAP produces not just the Oscar statuettes but also carefully replicated, editioned artworks of different scales for artists including Lindy Lee, Reko Renie and Emily Floyd, whose hand-carved sculptural parrot was 3D-scanned and turned into a series of five oversized aluminium statues.

"Make art happen" is the mission of specialist foundry UAP
UAP is also responsible for manufacturing the 5.6-metre-tall Boy Walking sculpture by New Zealand artist Ronnie van Hout

"I am always in awe as I walk through one of our workshops," said Daniel Tobin.

"There is a constant movement of people, the hum of machinery, and the excitement of making. The furnace is lit, bronze is on the boil and the noise is deafening. When new projects are underway, there is no better place to be."

Studio: UAP
Contact address: [email protected]

About Virtual Design Festival

Virtual Design Festival is the world's first online design festival, taking place from 15 April to 30 June. For more information, or to be added to the mailing list, contact us at [email protected].

studio profile on Virtual Design Festival could expose your work to Dezeen's three million monthly website visitors. Each studio profile will be featured on the VDF homepage and included in Dezeen's daily newsletter, which has 170,000 subscribers.