MIA Features ‘Golden Spider Silk’ Exhibition

This exhibition features a product that is fascinating and unique for all textile lovers and fashion creators: A contemporary cape and three exquisite textiles has been fashioned using Golden Spider Silk  made from the silk of golden orb-weaver spiders found in Madagascar by creators Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley. And these unique pieces are up for display at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha.

The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) presents ‘Golden Spider Silk’, an exhibition that will be until July6th, 2024, at the temporary exhibition gallery, fourth floor of the Museum. An exhibition that creates a forever piece of embroidered brilliance from temporary natural spider thread.

Spider silk creators Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley’s textiles are the result of over 20 years of experimentation with the material. In 2004, the duo embarked upon this grand project of producing and creating textiles made with spiders’ silk.

The ‘Golden Spider Silk’ exhibition will, for the first time, showcase all four finished textiles together, alongside historic manuscripts and folios documenting the process. This includes a magnificent embroidered cape, brocaded weave lamba (lamba akotifahana), sheer taffeta, and a satin weave shawl.

These textiles are the only examples of golden spider silk in the world, and this is the first time that they will be on display in the Middle East. The exhibition will also feature a 15-minute video of Simon Peers discussing the history of golden spider silk.

The cape that is showcased was the second and last major creation by the spider silk experts Peers and Godley and it incorporated silk from 1,200.000 spiders and took over two years to produce just the silk, including 6000 hours of embroidery.

Golden Spider Silk creator Peers reflected on the fact that each textile tells a very contemporary story, a confluence of global cultural currents and eclectic borrowings.

He added: “These are works made after careful consideration and reflection, and with skills acquired after much time and effort. Ultimately, they are creations in which the medium is the message.”

SCALE asked Peers how he ventured into this fine art of spider silk weaving,

He says, “I have lived in Madagascar for 35 years since 1988. In 1989 I read an article about someone in the US trying to make artificial spider silk. I found that fascinating. I also heard that this was being practiced in Madagascar as well. I was intrigued and since early 2000s, I have been studying this fascinating art of spider silks. We started to work on this cape from 2004 after our initial study and researches. I designed the cape and then worked on this in our workshop with our inhouse weavers.”

The challenge, though in this golden work art, is in acquiring enough spiders for the silk. It is one particular species that gives this stunning gold silk and the entire process took over eight years to complete.

The most special thing about this silk is the colour says Peers. “It is a thread which is like no other. It is not dyed. It is almost translucent and can be seen in different shades of this brilliant yellow.”

What we loved about the project, other than, of course the brilliance of the silk and the weave, is the fact that something as fleeting and transient as a spiders web has been made into an ever-lasting piece of tailored brilliance that will perhaps last for a lifetime or more.

Many of their works have been on display over the years in public and private collections including: The British Museum; London; Metropolitan Museum, New York; The Art Institute Chicago; The American Museum of Natural History, New York; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Fowler Museum UCLA, Los Angeles; The Field Museum, Chicago; The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC; and the Museum of Ethnography, Osaka, Japan.