An Lanntair’s COP 26 flagship exhibition: End of Engines

  • Published on: 9th November 2021
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The alchemical properties of oil, and the gloaming of the combustion engine are symbols for our age of consumption in Robbie Thomson’s multimedia installation End of Engines, An Lanntair’s COP26 flagship exhibition, opening in the main gallery, Saturday 4 December.

“An Lanntair will be the first time I’ve shown this work – I’m looking forward to being back in a physical gallery space,” said Robbie Thomson.

“This project has been in the pipeline since the start of the pandemic and I’m interested to see how the audience responds to the installation, especially during this time when there is such a heighted focus on the environment and the conversation is so urgent.”

Commissioned by Cryptic in partnership with Cove Park, End of Engines links the deep history of the planet to our contemporary environmental condition and draws on cosmological themes to illustrate the ability of oil to transcend and entangle time.

The work meditates on the creative and destructive forces of technology, the allure of the synthetic and the nihilism of industrial exploitation. Although sometimes ominous in tone, the void-like quality of the installation suggests radical re-imaginings of alternative futures and relationships between humans and the earth.

Inspired by the aesthetics of petroleum architecture, mythology, astronomy and car customisation, this installation features a collection of robotic sound and light sculptures. Using liquids, reflection and rotation, the sculptures create intricate interplays of light and motion that animate the walls of the gallery.

An Lanntair Head of Visual Arts, Roddy Murray, said: “The installation was originally commissioned by Cryptic in partnership with Cove Park and we are delighted and proud to bring it to an island audience. The timing of it in the immediate aftermath of COP26 could hardly be more exacting and relevant.”

 “It presents the twilight of the combustion engine as a metaphor and symbol for our industrial age, of which, climate change is the by-product: A bill we will all have to pay. We are at an inflection point in human history and the revolving carbon-fibre blades, reflected in a black pool of oil are a stark visual statement linking the deep history of the earth to the present and our uncertain future.”

An Lanntair is delighted to host End of Engines in response to COP26 as part of Làn Thìde, the Outer Hebrides Climate Beacon; a collective and network of arts, heritage, community, environmental and third sector organisations, located in the Outer Hebrides and established to create a programme of public engagement focused on climate change and developed with community collaboration at its core. To find out more, please visit Làn Thìde’s website at

End of Engines has a special public preview at 5pm on Friday 3 December, all are welcome. The exhibition will run in An Lanntair’s Main Gallery until January 22, 2022.