"The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver." – Louise Bourgeois, 2001

These artworks were developed in collaboration with Mind in Camden and artist Nicole Morris. Over two months of working together at the Foundling Museum, we explored embroidery and weaving techniques. We drew inspiration from ‘The Mother and the Weaver’, an exhibition showcasing modern and contemporary works from the Ursula Hauser collection, including pieces by Louise Bourgeois and other notable women artists.

In Bourgeois’ work the spider serves as a profound symbol. She is a maternal and creative figure who weaves a home from silk spun within her own body. Continuously tending to her web, she maintains and repairs it, making it both her dwelling and means of sustenance. Throughout our weekly sessions, we explored resonant themes from the exhibition, contemplating concepts of the unseen mother, maternal love, positive and negative space, absence and presence. We started each workshop with creative writing prompts and used handmade journals to record reflections at the end.

Bringing together processes of cutting, weaving and repairing, we made textile works using embroidery thread and wool. We pondered the notion of ‘emptiness’ and the nature of completion (and incompletion) in our pieces. One member of our group crafted a woven piece with a hole in the centre that allows light to pass through it when held in the air. As another member noted: ‘the light has substance’.

One afternoon we ventured to Brunswick Square, where we made graphite rubbings on calico, capturing impressions of tree bark and other textures gleaned from the environment. Utilising these fabric pieces, we developed sculptural and mixed media works, drawing from a multitude of artistic references and sources. The loom, we discovered, became a realm of possibility and a source of joy.

With no predefined goals, we embraced chance, accidents and the unexpected. One piece incorporates orange peels, organic matter that will continue to dry and evolve in unforeseeable ways. A spirit of curiosity and resilience permeated the creation of these works, many of them leaving room for change—an ‘incompleteness’ that mirrors the ever-fluid nature of life itself. ‘If you can resolve something here, in your work, you can do so in life’, said one of our participants.