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Cornelia Parker: Magna Carta (An Embroidery)

Magna Carta (An Embroidery) is a major new artwork by the acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker that has been commissioned by the Ruskin School of Art to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015.

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A landmark in constitutional history and a foundation of the concept of the rule of law, Magna Carta is one of the most famous documents ever written. What began life in the 13th century as a peace treaty between King John and his barons has come to be viewed as an iconic piece of our national history.

Fabricated by many hands, Magna Carta (An Embroidery) replicates in stitch the entire Wikipedia article on Magna Carta as it appeared on the document’s 799th anniversary. The Wikipedia article regularly attracts more than 150,000 page views each month and is constantly being amended as the debate about the document and its legacy ebbs and flows.

‘Magna Carta (An Embroidery) is a snapshot of where the debate is right now,’ explains 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 wanted to create an artwork that is a contemporary interpretation of Magna Carta.’

Cornelia Parker is one of the most original and inventive artists working in Britain today. Transforming everyday things into compelling works of art, her projects have included blowing up a shed, steamrolling musical instruments and sending meteorites back into space. These have involved her in collaborations with the most unlikely institutions from the British Army and the Royal Mint to the funeral homes of São Paulo and a crown-of-thorns workshop in Bethlehem. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1997, elected a Royal Academician in 2009 and appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2010.

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 and it is included in Magna Carta 800th.