UK artist Mat Collishaw unveils kinetic sculpture at Expo 2020 Dubai

Titled 'Equinox', the work features a zoetrope shaped like a giant lotus flower that will animate insect models

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A new artwork revealed at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai shows a dance in nature. As a giant lotus flower spins, it is orbited by insects that flutter, feed and pollinate, displaying ecological harmony.

At its core, the kinetic sculpture titled Equinox is an optical illusion, made with the help of zoetrope technology, a pre-film animation technique developed in the 17th century.

As Equinox is animated – the flower spinning on an axis and the petals acting as ‘shutters’ to give the appearance of movement to the insects – a selection of poems by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and English poet William Blake will accompany the piece.

Created by British artist Mat Collishaw and curated by cultural agency Futurecity, the work has been commissioned by Expo 2020 Dubai specifically to be shown in Terra.

What is 'Equinox'?

Measuring five metres high and three metres wide, the zoetrope opens and closes by hydraulic action. Sitting on a baseplate that serves as its stem, the flower can also be raised and lowered by hydraulics.

During the day, the flower will be in a closed position, with the insect models inside flitting between the 3D-printed petals through animation. In the evening, the surrounding lights will be dimmed and the work functions as a strobe zoetrope.

A close-up view of Mat Collishaw's work for Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Photo: Dany Eid / Expo 2020

According to the artist, the sculpture contemplates the Earth’s natural ecosystems and aims to reawaken Expo visitors’ relationship with the natural world.

“My work engages with subject matter that involves an engagement with how we as humans navigate the world and the choices we make. The sustainability theme of Terra provided a context, literally and metaphorically, for an experience that invites contemplation and reflection on the precarious nature of the Earth's ecosystem,” said Collishaw.

British artist Mat Collishaw with his work 'Equinox', which will be unveiled at Expo 2020 Dubai. Photo: Expo 2020

He also noted how the sculpture uniquely responds to Terra’s architecture. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the pavilion features a 130-metre-wide oval building at its centre, surrounded by sprouting solar panels.

Equinox has been positioned in the Inner Core of Terra and comprises a 360-degree glass viewing balcony with a central opening that viewers can peer through to a shallow water reservoir where the work sits.

“Grimshaw’s architecture in the Inner Core, with its circular geometry, water reservoir and skylight, frame the artwork in an exhilarating way, and I hope it inspires people to want to protect their environment,” Collishaw said.

Equinox will go on view at Expo 2020 Dubai, which opens to the public on Friday, October 1.

More information is available at

Updated: September 21, 2021, 12:42 PM