Bound for Florence Biennale, School of A+A’s Prof. Samantha Talbot-Kelly Ties Threads Together

Bound for Florence Biennale, School of A+A’s Prof. Samantha Talbot-Kelly Ties Threads Together


Inspired by the role the heart played in her mother’s death as both a life-giving organ of the body and an emotional repository for grief, artist and Norwich University adjunct professor Samantha Talbot-Kelly embarked on a yearlong project to create Open, Sesame, an installation that sees the concept of the human heart as a vital center of human biology, with philosophical roots in eastern thought, robotics and psychology.

Prof. Talbot-Kelly’s conceptual sculpture explores the relationship between design, the body, technology, and emotion. The layering of materials on and around a mannequin makes us ask ourselves questions about clothing as shelter, isolation and intimacy.

“In Open, Sesame I reference the heart as a metaphorical center that pumps between desire and relief when answering our heart’s obsessions…I see the heart mechanism of pumping new blood and the releasing to the lungs as a metaphor for psychological possession and the freedom that comes from letting go,” said Prof. Talbot-Kelly.

Prof. Talbot-Kelly is using a crowdfunding platform specifically for artists called HatchFund to raise the funds required to make the trip. To date, Talbot-Kelly has raised 75% of her goal of $4200. To learn more about the project, visit her HatchFund campaign, also called Open Sesame.

The Biennale will be held November 30-December 8 in Florence, Italy. Prof. Talbot-Kelly is working round the clock to complete Open Sesame in time to ship it to Italy. The work features organza silk-screened with Talbot-Kelly’s elegant anatomical renderings of the human heart. These are layered over hand-dyed calico fabric that has been cut and draped over the human form.

“The figure will have a robotic hand that will imitate this idea of desire–hand grasping and closing–and relief–hand opening and letting go,” notes Prof. Talbot-Kelly.

More images of the work in progress can be seen on her blog

Prof. Talbot-Kelly needs to raise an additional $850 to meet her goal. Donations to the project can be given at