Based Upon creates very special things. It’s also something of an enigma. ‘We are not so concerned with how we are labelled,’ says its co-founder, Ian Abell. ‘It’s more about what, how and why we make.’ Perhaps ‘atelier’ gets close or you may give the collective endeavour a single anthropomorphic identity as ‘an artist’. It is the sum of its parts: an aggregation of the talents of its artists, designers and engineers at any one time. Many of its current tribe joined as apprentices over a decade ago and have never left.
After riding the storm of pandemic uncertainty, the team is once again thriving and is busier than ever. It is currently completing its largest ever sculpture at 16 metres high for a high profile project in Abu Dhabi. At a smaller scale Based Upon is continuing its partnership with Rolls Royce, creating artworks inside the Phantom Gallery for Rolls Royce clients who desire the ultimate in bespoke. Its collaboration with Steinway and Sons, developed over 3 years, has resulted in a new piano, which will unveil in early 2022 and builds on the success of Based Upon’s much loved piano, The Baby.
Based Upon undertakes some epic works. Completed last month, A Life in Work was three years in the making. It is a vast engraving in bronze depicting the story of a father whose heroic efforts built a family empire. Layered within a collage of metals it is a work of legacy, allowing the family to honour and remember him as it hangs in their family office in Dallas. At four metres by two metres it depicts 100 years of history, capturing narrative details within a rich tapestry which balances detail with abstract essence.
It is the latest in a series following the ten-metre-high bronze A Grain of Rice, which HSBC chose to commemorate its 150th year, and the impressive engraved history Based Upon created for Tiffany & Co.’s 175th anniversary. Similar works grace private collections in Los Angeles, Mumbai, Moscow and London.
An immersive piece, Amma, delighted viewers internationally in 2021, showing at the Eye of the Collector art fair in London during the summer and was also at Volte Art Projects, Dubai, in the winter. The work honours ancient landscapes and uses light and sound frequencies to return the viewer to a peaceful state of rest. It takes about three minutes of sitting with the work to reach a deep meditative state without a need for meditation experience: a gift indeed at these turbulent times.
It is also breathing life into its Conscious Making manifesto. Abell says, ‘It’s about bringing the same level of care and attention that we bring to an artwork to all aspects of our making process and to who we partner with.’ Their current Conscious Making offset project is supporting a biodiversity regeneration project in Catalonia. Its aim is to heal the land and those who visit and is under the guardianship of some of the disciples from Based Upon’s ‘Last Supper’ sculpture. ‘It’s a special place,’ says Abell, ‘it resonates with something beyond the norm.’ A bit like a Based Upon creation then.