The Natural World exhibition catalogue cover

If recent events tell us anything it is that nature still calls the shots despite our best efforts to harness and control her. As human beings we have an innate ability to appreciate her, but also to distance ourselves by prioritising our desires over our needs. Not without irony is it that due to many of those desires being denied us during imposed lockdowns did some of our appreciation of nature return; many found therapy in the simple wonders of the natural world to which we belong, comfort in the opportunity for her to breathe and thrive once more, and solace in the time we found ourselves with which to observe and appreciate her. We were transported back to the periphery of a time when we took a more balanced seat in the great cycle of life, and were as a result more finely tuned into the grander scheme of things.

This collection of objects is a tribute to that time. In addition to revealing what wonders nature herself conjures up without our interference, it showcases objects dependent upon the skills, patience and learning of a distant past. It also exposes what wonders those disciplines are still capable of producing in the three extraordinary golden spider silk textiles we are extremely fortunate to be able to include.

All of the hurry and haste of life is now slowly returning and with it many of the pleasures we all seek. But hopefully we will take forward a keener ability to appreciate all of the mystery and magic of the natural world to which we belong, and which remain inherent within the objects presented here.