Giant spider moves to Thames

LONDON (Reuters) - A giant spider took up residence on the banks of the River Thames on Wednesday, but Arachnophobes can relax -- it doesn’t bite or even move.

A sculpture of a spider by French born artist Louise Bourgeois is seen outside Tate Modern, central London October 3, 2007. The sculpture was installed outside the Tate as part of a major exhibiton of work by Bourgeois. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

The nine metre (30 feet) high and wide creature is made of bronze, stainless steel and marble and is the creation of renowned artist Louise Bourgeois.

Created in 1999 and named Maman in tribute to the artist’s mother, its appearance outside the Tate Modern art gallery is the first time it has been on display outdoors in Britain.

“The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver,” the 95-year-old Bourgeois said in a statement.

“Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother,” she added.

French-born Bourgeois is regarded by many as one of the most important artists working today.

She has always been at the forefront of new developments in art, exploring her ideas in painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance, using varied media, from wood and stone to latex and rubber.

Bronze casts of Maman are on permanent display at The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea, Mori Art Center in Tokyo and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

The Tate’s Maman is a taster for an exhibition of 200 works by Bourgeois that will open in the gallery on October 10 and run to January 20, 2008.

It coincides with the installation in the former power station’s giant Turbine Hall of a work by Colombian-born sculptor and installation artist Doris Salcedo as part of the annual series sponsored by Unilever.

That will be unveiled on Monday and run for six months.