Creating Space with Zac Underwood

Words by Prim

Photos by Shelley

What we see is not always necessarily what we see. Without lending too much artistic bent on this, I’ll try to explain; for starters and easy to comprehend, Zac Underwood is as tall as he looks. Secondly, his art slithers through that many connotations it makes a chameleon wearing an ostrich feather boa break dancing at the Rio Carnival seem bland.

Zac runs procedures at the Underwood Art Factory, a creation started by his father John many moons ago. Armed with an abundant lack of research I set out to find what exactly Zac and the Factory does in the art world.

The Factory’s entrance is of swirling Aztec-type iron discs sat a-top stone walls, intertwined with overflowing fauna. Through this seemingly hidden jungle temple a garden emerges. The same theme continues with nature’s elements curated by an ancient mystical hand. Among blasts of sculptures, partitions of old doors and beachcombed matter stands an old time music hall wooden stage. The venue occasionally doubles as an entertainment area. At some point you would expect Angelina Jolie to scurry past.

Over the last trees of broccoli from lunch, dad (John) told us art was dead, and in effect long live art. Thrown sideways, I queried the essence of sculpting as an art form, thinking that being the Factory’s primary stamp and yet how wrong and effectively right I was… bear with me please.

The Factory is exactly that, a place from which ideas are formed then quite literally forged. The concept meets design, meets fabrication, meets practicality in art; ‘Installations’, Zac calls it, ‘a creative process of creating space’. Things were beginning to unfold. The Factory effectively designs unique interior and exteriors, accessorised with an array of products ranging from lighting to furniture to bath tubs. Sculpting becomes therefore, a mere fragment of the process behind innovative designs.

Borne from natural artistic leanings, Zac, as a child was a prolific drawer and painter who went on to study in London. His definition of art, modern or contemporary is by no means a contentious point, but one that rallies broader denotations within our sensory awareness (this it seems is becoming a reoccurring theme in the Artists on Phuket series!). Not one ounce of space in the Underwood’s designs is left to chance, a germination of ideas appear with subtle ease. Intricate carving on elaborate doors, minamilistic modern light shades offset vintage fans. Zac, partnering the modern’s ever evolvement with technology is kindred to nature’s progression and never one for questioning; ‘marry analogue and digital together and you get something truly spectacular’. (Ok, mind blown!)

Leaving the ‘Lost Gardens’ behind we venture to the rear of the factory where the hub of ‘building art’ takes place. Gas bottles, welders sparks, and hangings of half-finished designs fill the floor and walls, it’s a cross between an art studio and a hardware warehouse. On an upper deck Zac shows us something they’re quite proud of, a reasonably sized circular… house, well at least the makings of one – it’s a self-contained, sustainably designed living unit, to be packed off into easy loads to be reassembled in remote places.

Back on ground level Zac raises an eyebrow, or two, in reference to the whopping 3D printer. I nod in appreciation. Further down the floor ladies are chipping away at a stone and glass tiled curved shower unit, they stop to say hello. I reciprocate in silent Thai. Lastly we stop off out back in the air-con office – a mass of objects you’d expect to find on a film set and your dad’s garage fill the walls and tables – I love it here, it’s a hive of activity on every level from design to fabrication. If its art you’re after, the Underwood’s will build it.

For the full audio interview with Zac’s chosen tunes listen here… Creating Space with Zac Underwood

For their amazing work see here: Underwood Art Factory