Cornelia Parker with the beginning of the embroidery
Cornelia Parker with the beginning of the embroidery

Ruskin School of Art commissions artwork to mark Magna Carta's 800th anniversary

Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art has commissioned British artist Cornelia Parker to produce a major artwork to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

At almost 13 metres long, Magna Carta (An Embroidery) will replicate in stitch the entire Wikipedia article on Magna Carta as it appeared on the 799th anniversary on 15 June 2014.

The commission will be unveiled in a free exhibition at the British Library, which opens on 15 May next year and sits alongside Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, an exhibition exploring the history and significance of this globally-recognised document.

'This is a snapshot of where the debate about Magna Carta is right now,' said Cornelia Parker. 'Echoing the communal activity that resulted in the Bayeux Tapestry, but on this occasion placing more emphasis on the word rather than the image, I want to create an artwork that is a contemporary interpretation of Magna Carta.'

The Wikipedia entry for Magna Carta regularly gets more than 150,000 page views per month and is constantly being amended by users of the website as the debate about Magna Carta and its legacy ebbs and flows.

Paul Bonaventura of the Ruskin School of Art said: 'Stitched by over 200 people, from prisoners, lawyers and civil rights campaigners to barons and MPs, the commission aims to unpick the story of Magna Carta by collaborating with groups and individuals who have been associated with and affected by the document since it was first drawn up in 1215.'

Elsewhere in Oxford a number of events will celebrate the anniversary. The Bodleian Library holds four of the 17 known surviving Charters, including three of the four surviving 1217 Charters. The Gloucester Charter will be displayed in an exhibition entitled Marks of Genius at the new Weston Library from late March to 20th September 2015, while a smaller display in the atrium of the Weston Library will display two other Charters. More information can be found here.

Magna Carta (An Embroidery) has been commissioned by the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford in partnership with the British Library and in association with the Embroiderers' Guild, Fine Cell Work, Hand & Lock and the Royal School of Needlework. The commission has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the John Fell OUP Research Fund.