Silken Cells by Rob Kesseler

Saturday 11th January – Sunday 30th March 2014
Throughout the Hall
Free admission
Normal Opening Hours



This exhibition transforms the Hall with a selection of silk hangings, artefacts and micrographs installed in spaces around the building, to surprise and delight visitors. 

‘Silken Cells’ is an installation of artworks that weave together the hidden botanical, scientific and cultural threads that run through Forty Hall & Estate. 

Delft is a town in Holland which was at the centre of the Dutch ceramics industry which became highly prized in the Western World from the 17thC.  Holland was also at the forefront of horticultural developments and domestic design. 

Sir Nicholas Rainton was a merchant dealing in fine cloths from Europe and Asia and he built Forty Hall in the early part of the 17thC (1629-32).  At this time the Dutch inventor of the microscope and draper, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was working in Delft.  Also at this time, ‘tulip mania’ was rife, as the Dutch developed new varieties of tulip bulbs which have influenced horticulture and garden design to this very day.  Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented and developed the microscope to better understand and view the structures in the silk fabrics which he sold as a merchant. 

The exhibition has been commissioned by Forty Hall & Estate, Enfield Council and funded by Arts Council England.  It is supported by Central Saint Martins, The University of the Arts London, The Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, The Gulbenkian Science Institute Portugal and the Botanic Garden Lisbon.  The ceramic plates which are exhibited here in the Parlour have been kindly sponsored by Royal Doulton.

Rob Kesseler is a Visual Artist and Chair in Arts, Design & Science at the University of the Arts, London. A former NESTA Fellow at Kew and Research Fellow at the Gulbenkian Science Institute, Portugal, during the past thirteen years he has collaborated with botanical scientists and molecular biologists in an exploration of the living world at a microscopic level.  Rob’s work is concerned with reflecting the way the natural world migrates into many aspects of our daily lives.  His images are translated into a wide range of contexts and media, ceramics, glass and textiles, video, and photography.


Download your guideline to the artworks here.



Its really cool, I would love to live here