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Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Wednesday, 16 June 2010 16:10 UK
Morris Singer Art Foundry brought back from the brink
Nasser Azam with his statue 'The Dance'
Nasser Azam's statue 'The Dance' was cast at the Braintree factory

An historic art foundry in Braintree which went into administration last month has been revived.

During its 170-year history, Morris Singer Art Founders was responsible for statues such as the the four bronze lions in Trafalgar Square.

It has now been re-launched as the Zahra Modern Art Foundries.

"It's part of the cultural heritage of this country and hopefully we're going to continue to develop that legacy," new owner Nasser Azam told BBC Essex.

"The foundry has the skills and knowledge built up over the course of a couple of decades and also has the ability to cast monumental bronzes.

"I think it's the only foundry in the UK and one of only three in the world that has that ability," he added.

Established in Somerset in 1848, the modern incarnation of Morris Singer Art Founders was created in 2005 when the name was bought by Braintree-based Art Foundries Limited.

Other well-known statues to have been produced by the company are of Boudicca outside the Houses of Parliament, Paul Day's 'The Meeting Place' at St Pancras station, Nelson Mandela and Bobby Moore.

Financial problems forced it into receivership in May, at which point Azam, a former city banker and now full-time contemporary artist, began discussions to rescue the company.

Boudicca statue outside the Houses of Parliament
Morris Singer cast the Boudicca statue outside the Houses of Parliament

He had previously been involved with the foundry when he commissioned them to create his bronze 'The Dance' for London's South Bank and another project at National Botanical Gardens of Ireland in Dublin.

"I think [the previous management] probably were too domesticated over the last three to five years as we suffered the recession," he told BBC Essex.

"In other words, we didn't look to outside markets and I don't think they did a great marketing job in terms of what their abilities were."

Nasser explained he would look to take the business into the lucrative middle-eastern market.

"It's huge. I've been speaking to a couple of clients over the past week or so and there is definitely a lot of interest coming in from Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai," he said.

Azam renamed the business after his daughter "to signal a new development in the foundry's history".

He hopes his experience from 20 years in the City, during which time he was Chief Operating Officer for Merrill Lynch, will help take the company forward.

Paul Day's 'The Meeting Place' at St Pancras station
'The Meeting Place' at St Pancras station was cast by Morris Singer

"Being a practicing contemporary artist, combined with 20 years of business acumen I think helps. Contemporary art has changed over the last decade or so," he told BBC Essex.

He added he was hopeful of being able to retain the majority of the 15 specialist workers employed at the company's Braintree factory.

"We'll downsize a little bit to start off with, but as we expand we'll be growing the personnel," said Azam.

"We've got the same premises, the same client list, most of the staff so in all intents and purposes even though it did go into receivership it was like a continuous business, so I think we were very fortunate."




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