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Magna Carta (An Embroidery)

magna carta an embroidery library, magna carta an embroidery designs
Magna Carta An Embroidery is a 2015 work by English installation artist Cornelia Parker The artwork is an embroidered representation of the complete text and images of an online encyclopedia article for Magna Carta, as it appeared in English Wikipedia on 15 June 2014, the 799th anniversary of the document

The hand-stitched embroidery is 15 metres wide and nearly 13 metres long It is a response to the legacy of Magna Carta in the digital era and Parker has referred to it as "a snapshot of where the debate is right now", the result of all open edits by English Wikipedians up to that date It was commissioned by the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford in partnership with the British Library, after being chosen from proposals from a shortlist of artists in February 2014

Parker used a screenshot from the 15 June 2014 English Wikipedia article for Magna Carta and printed it onto fabric Like English Wikipedia, the embroidery was created through the collaboration of many individuals It was divided in 87 sections and sent to 200 individuals who each hand-stitched portions of the artwork She sought the collaboration of people and groups that have been affected by and associated with Magna Carta The majority of the text was sewn by prisoners Members of the Embroiderers' Guild stitched the images, with at least one embroiderer selected from each region of the UK Many celebrities and public figures also contributed, stitching phrases or words of special significance to them Parker has represented the work as "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"

The work includes a tea stain from a prisoner and a spot of blood from Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who accidentally pricked his finger while sewing

Magna Carta An Embroidery is part of an exhibition celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta It was displayed in the Entrance Hall of the British Library from 15 May until 24 July 2015, at the Whitworth Gallery August - November 2016, and in the Blackwell Hall of the Bodleian Library, Oxford from 11 November 2015 to 3 January 2016, touring other United Kingdom locations in the rest of 2016 and 2017


Detail of the work reproducing an image of the 1297 copy of Magna Carta on display in the Members' Hall of Parliament House, Canberra, Australia The entire embroidery

Parker invited some 200 people to hand-stitch portions of the work including prison inmates, civil rights campaigners, MPs, lawyers, barons and artists Much of the work was done by 36 prisoners from 13 different prisons in England, under the supervision of the social enterprise Fine Cell Work Members of the Embroiderers' Guild contributed the images as did students from the Royal School of Needlework and the embroidery company Hand & Lock

Six students from La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls' School, London were the youngest contributors to the work

Parker invited royalty to contribute to the work, but they declined She said that right-wing people were more likely to decline; both Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond also declined to contribute

List of contributors
  • Julian Assange – "freedom"
  • Mary Beard
  • Shami Chakrabarti – "Charter of Liberties"
  • Kenneth Clarke
  • Jarvis Cocker – "common people" for the song of the same name
  • Brian Eno – "in perpetuity"
  • Anthea Godfrey Embroiderers' Guild – image of Pope Innocent III
  • Antony Gormley
  • Germaine Greer
  • Igor Judge, Baron Judge and Lady Judith Judge – "Habeas Corpus"
  • Christopher Le Brun – "folio"
  • Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon – "justice", "denial" and "delay"
  • Caroline Lucas
  • Eliza Manningham-Buller – "freedom"
  • James McNeill QC - "Abbots - witnesses"
  • Caitlin Moran
  • Cornelia Parker – "prerogative"
  • Janet Payne Embroiderers' Guild – image of John of England signing Magna Carta
  • Philip Pullman – "Oxford"
  • Alan Rusbridger – "contemporary political relevance"
  • Edward Snowden – "liberty"
  • Clive Stafford Smith – stitched his contribution while visiting a client at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp
  • Peter Tatchell – "democracy" shared with Parker
  • Jimmy Wales – "user's manual"
  • Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi – "freedom"
  • Baroness Shirley Williams
  • Students from La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls' School – "Salisbury Cathedral", "Durham Cathedral", "South Africa" and "Australia"


  1. ^ a b c d e f "A new artwork by Cornelia Parker that responds to Magna Carta in the digital era" British Library Retrieved 15 May 2015 
  2. ^ "Ruskin School of Art commissions artwork to mark Magna Carta's 800th anniversary" University of Oxford 27 November 2014 
  3. ^ Claire Breay, Magna Carta An Embroidery, British Library medieval manuscripts blog, 14 May 2015 retrieved 17 May 2015
  4. ^ "Cornelia Parker's Magna Carta And Alice In Wonderland At 150 Celebrated At British Library" Artlyst 3 December 2014 
  5. ^ "Magna Carta An Embroidery" Retrieved 3 May 2016 
  6. ^ a b Cliss, Sarah 8 October 2014 "Janet has historic artwork all sewn up" Wisbech Standard 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Masters, Tim 14 May 2015 "Hand-sewn Wikipedia page marks Magna Carta anniversary" BBC News 
  8. ^ "Cornelia Parker's Magna Carta An Embroidery now on display at the Weston Library" Bodleian Libraries news University of Oxford 11 November 2015 Retrieved 17 November 2015 
  9. ^ Craig, Zoe 16 May 2015 "Someone's Embroidered Magna Carta's Wikipedia Page" Londonist 
  10. ^ a b Heidi and Holly 19 May 2015 "Embroidering the Magna Carta to mark 800th anniversary" BBC News School Report 
  11. ^ Jones, Jonathan 14 May 2015 "Kings and needles: the Magna Carta gets an embroidery update" The Guardian 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Cornelia Parker unveils 13 metre-long Magna Carta embroidery at the British Library stitched by over 200 individuals, including Jarvis Cocker, Edward Snowden and Baroness Doreen Lawrence" British Library Retrieved 16 May 2015 

External links

  • Fine Cell Work - the social enterprise through which prisoners stitched the text

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