A golden shawl made from the delicate silk of a Madagascar spider is one of the items on display later this month in an exhibition of wonders from the natural world.
Spider silk was long coveted as an alternative to Chinese silkworms before artificial fabrics were developed, but spider silk is far harder to cultivate and apart from determined efforts never took off as a fabric.
It’s not impossible though, and if you were to weave a garment, then the golden orb-weaver spiders, which are famous for their webs that shimmer with gold in the light, make the ideal supplier.
Two shawls and a lamba have been woven from spider silk that was collected by the textile designer Simon Peers and development economist Nicholas Godley over the course of two decades, from an estimated 2 million spiders, and later this month they go on display at Cromwell Place in South Kensington.
They are the highlight of the exhibition, The Natural World, which also includes rare mineral stones, meteorites, a couple of Narwhal tusks, carved nutshells, a Dodo bone, and a host of other natural wonders.
Cromwell Place is home to a number of galleries within the single building, so you will be able to see other exhibitions at the same time on your visit.