Golden Spider Silk

Golden Spider Silk

The cape and 3 textiles presented here represent the culmination of centuries of tireless human endeavour and ambition to harvest one of the most beautiful but elusive materials on our planet – spider silk. They were produced by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley over the course of two decades from the silk of golden orb-weaver spiders – Nephila Madagascariensis – native to Madagascar and famous for the colour of their webs, which shimmer with gold.

We are delighted to be able to include the three textiles – the lamba and both shawls – in our exhibition.

Spider Silk has for centuries been coveted for its promise of riches, particularly by those seeking to compete with the silk arriving from China which started to flood the wealthy wardrobes and bedchambers of Europe. Its extraordinary history can be told through a handful of fascinating and ambitious players determined to push human enterprise into corners of creativity otherwise overlooked, though most soon found their dreams tangled up in a quandary of complication and prohibitive cost.

That is until very recently.

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Nephila Madagascariensis. Auguste Vinson, Aranéides des iles de la Réunion, Maurice et Madagascar, Paris 1863, plate VII

Sir David Attenborough discusses spider silk and the production of these textiles.

Nicholas Godley and Simon Peers offer insight into the inspiration behind producing these textiles.

The Victoria & Albert Museum explains how spider silk was collected and how the textiles were made.