The V&A is currently playing host to a one of the kind cape made from the silk of golden orb-weaver spiders from the mountains of Madagascar. Well hidden in a single room at the back of the museum is an explanation of the process in which this stunning garment was made.
The dazzling material came from the ideas of English Simon Peers, a textile artist and American Nicholas Godley, a designer. Both set up business in Madagascar and became interested in reviving the industry to create this fabric. The huge pieces of cloth are the world’s largest from spider silk, and a shawl also on display was made with the help of more than one million female spiders over a period of five years. It took 80 people to harvest the silk and the spiders were returned to their forest at the end of each day. The silk is extracted using a hand powered machine and is naturally gold in colour. It is a work of art in itself, a remarkably coloured piece of work. As the only example of spider silk and at four metres long, it is barely imaginable what this huge fabric is worth – surely, it must be priceless.
The one of a kind cape is truly stunning and surely not to be missed.
The silk is on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 5 June 2012.