Left in Dust

‘Left in Dust’ is installed over the partially excavated remains of a Roman chariot racing site in Valencia old town.

During the period of the Roman Empire one of the galvanising forces that functioned as a way of pacifying the populace was the elaborate organisation of entertainment and games. Gladiatorial combat and chariot races were the main attractions in the arena. However, despite these advances, the Romans could hardly be described as considerate and compassionate. There is a disquietude in seeing a horse, once free to graze and play, being co-opted into the mad frenzy of this theatre of entertainment. The horse’s throbbing sensuality was undeniably part of the attraction of these races, and the madness of an excited crowd is a seductive, irresistible spectacle.”

Video Mikel Ponce


In Eidolon, a single blue iris flower is engulfed in – but not consumed by – flames. Over the course of seven minutes, petals slowly effloresce and shrink within a burning cloak of fire, while a voice sings from the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3.

In Christianity, the blue iris signifies several divine attributes. The flower has historically been associated with the Virgin Mary, faith, wisdom, hope, fortitude, justice, temperance, and patience. In religious gardens, the flowers symbolise heaven. Artists including Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Anish Kapoor, Giuseppe Penone and Picasso have used irises to signal virtue.

In this work, the flames symbolise an intent to destroy the innate beauty of the image itself. This tension heightens over the course of the work, as the iris slowly furls and blooms within a dancing shroud of fire, whilst remaining essentially intact. This state of imminent immolation – the transient moment before death – is analogous to depictions of the ecstatic sublime, in representations of Christian saints at the moment of death. For these figures, the unshakeable promise of the hereafter, tested to the absolute limits of human endurance in crucifixion, sustains their resolve through aggression, attack, physical agony, and slow death. Life, the corporeal self, the body is gratefully sacrificed to God. 

The phenomenon is accompanied by Bible verses, sung in Latin, from the Book of Daniel, Chapter Three, recounting the story of three subjects of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are brought to the king after refusing to worship a colossal gold icon he has erected, in his own image, declaring instead they only worship God. Steadfast and resolute, the three men resist the kings fury, so soldiers are commanded to bind and throw them into a fiery furnace, several times hotter than usual”. In their haste, the soldiers themselves fall into the flames and are immediately killed. Yet, when the king and his acolytes investigate the furnace, they see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walking amidst the flames, unharmed and accompanied by a fourth figure, the Son of God. The men are called out, emerging unharmed, at which point Nebuchadnezzar proclaims the supremacy of God, decreeing anyone who should speak against Him, be cut into pieces.

Like the men in the parable, in Eidolon the iris remains intact, within the flames – indeed, it moves and blooms within the flames, as if joyfully resisting destruction and the impotence of the flames, in a constant affirmation of life.

Martyrdom in art history is a very particular phenomenon. Martyrs are defined by their excruciating deaths, Saint Sebastian being killed by hundreds of arrows or Saint Lawrence, being burned alive. In the Western art canon, these brutal deaths are usually presented as a meditation on faith, as the subject looks heavenwards, with an expression of bewildered ecstasy, reckoning not with their Earthy tormentors, but a force greater than all human suffering and death. Martyrdom, the ultimate victory of faith, is choosing to surrender life for God.


The burning iris speaks of the sublimation of pain, suffering and impending death, within the light of faith. Emmanuel Kant identified the sublime as humanitys inability to comprehend the infinite vastness of creation and in realising this, recognising humanitys own insignificance. This is the bedrock of faith. However, this evolving series of burning flower artworks function as surrogates of the crucifixion, the notion of a horrific physical ordeal transcended through a belief in a higher power.

The vivid appalling horror of the account serves as a dynamic counterpoint to the unimaginative ersatz golden idol conferred by Nebuchadnezzar. Eidolon attempts to emulate this violently transcendental state, a ghostly, chimerical testament to unswerving faith.


Arsalan Mohammad



Sounding Sirens

In the zoetrope Sounding Sirens, the instrument’s very mechanics help stage a power struggle, a dominion and subjugation endlessly reenacted, between two entities: an intelligent octopus and a herd of less enlightened jellyfish. In the tormented ballet between the two, the troupe of jellyfish forms an undulating cage round the hapless octopus, whose tentacles reach out from between the spinning slats as if grasping for a foothold, fighting for expression. The very nature of each creature adds nuance to the spectacle: the octopus, often camouflaged, solitary and discreet, inhabits the deep and embodies thought and purpose, whereas jellyfish are surface-dwelling creatures, easily swayed by currents and visible en masse, whose bloom speaks of warming seas. Sirens lure sailors from their paths but they also alert to looming disaster. Yet even dramas at sea remain at the mercy of other forces; the zoetrope dangles from a metal chain, vulnerable to foreign interference, manipulated like a puppet or chandelier.

Chloe Aridjis


A life sized animatronic Stag in Insilico slips, slides and falls depending on the intensity of abuse directed at selected individuals on Twitter. Sentiment and hate speech analysts designed bespoke software to trawl twitter to establish who is the most abused person on the platform. The software then rates the incoming tweets depending on the intensity of the abuse.

A monitor at the back of the artwork displays the live twitter feed and the code engaged in determining the results. This data is fed to the mechanisms which determine the movements of the animatronic Stag.

Animatronics by Adam Keenan.

With special thanks to BHive Technologies who designed and developed AI and machine learning models to collect and analyse the data, leveraging top rated OpenAI-developed engines.


Equinox is a three dimensional zoetrope, an optical illusion, that considers the delicate calibration of the earth’s ecosystems. Spinning on an axis, a giant lotus flower hosts an orbit of insects. As the flower rotates, its petals act as ‘shutters’, animating the arthropods within. The bugs appear to dance in harmony as they clamber, flutter, eat and pollinate. The flower opens at dusk and closes at dawn. The Artworks title derives from the perfect balance of day at night evident at equinox. The Lotus Lily functions as a precious vessel conserving insect ecology, their enhanced scale underscoring the cataclysm that would follow their decline. Collishaw has selected quotations from HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and William Blake, passages which praise the complex beauty of nature, to accompany the work.

The Machine Zone

This work is inspired by the historic behavioural experiments of American psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) which explored the idea of random reward. Skinner’s work has been widely referenced in relation to the algorithms which drive interactions on social media, tapping into a subconscious primal side of the brain which is involved in motivated behaviours, thus exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. Skinner’s ‘operant conditioning chambers’ demonstrated that random reward created a kind of constant uncertainty that then encouraged a behavioural loop. Skinner’s ghost has persisted into the modern day, a quiet spectre among our statuses, likes, comments, and shares.

The Nerve Rack

The Mask of Youth


The Centrifugal Soul