Cornelia Parker to create huge Wikipedia-inspired replication of Magna Carta at British Library

By Ben Miller | 02 December 2014

Contentious Wikipedia entry for Magna Carta recreated by hundreds of people under direction of revered artist

A photo of a woman holding a long piece of stitched artwork inside some sort of gallery
Cornelia Parker has directed a Magna Carta stitch-up© Courtesy British Library / Tony Antoniou
Cornelia Parker, the Royal Academician who received an OBE in 2010, says her 13-metre long replication of the entire Wikipedia article on Magna Carta, stitched for a major exhibition next year at the British Library, symbolises the contested status of one of Britain’s most contentious and famous documents.

The Wikipedia entry for the 13th century charter is an almost constant work in progress, attracting more than 150,000 visits each month as academics and enthusiasts debate the legacy of King John’s legislation.
 
Part of a free exhibition at the library opening next May, Magna Carta (An Embroidery) sees the artist – known for her large-scale installations – interpret the layout of the article as it appeared on the 799th anniversary of Magna Carta’s issue, on June 15 2014.

“This is a snapshot of where the debate about Magna Carta is right now,” she says.

“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.”

Paul Bonaventura, of the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Arts, said the commission had been stitched by more than 200 helpers, including prisoners, lawyers, civil rights campaigners, barons and MPS. The Royal School of Needlework and the Embroiderers’ Guild were among the groups taking part.

“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,” he explained.

Oxford's Bodleian Library, where four of the 17 known surviving charters reside, will mark the 800th anniversary of the charter next year alongside the nearby Weston Library, where the Gloucester Charter will be displayed from March until September. Two other versions of the charter will also be shown in the library atrium.

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More from Culture24's coverage of Magna Carta:

British Library opens ballot to view four original Magna Cartas

British Library and Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals to unite surviving Magna Cartas

Curator's Choice: The Magna Carta at the British Library
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