Exhibition Visit: Magna Carta (An Embroidery) by Cornelia Parker @ The British Library

When I first found out about this particular commission, I have to admit I yelped with excitement slightly. If there were a perfect storm in artwork form then this would be it for me. Take the fact that it's done by one of my favourite artists whom I have heard speak in person, as well as it being stitched, involves type and strikes a resemblance to my own final piece for my art foundation (by pure coincidence), and you've got me very excited.

In this 13 metre long embroidery, Magna Carta's Wikipedia page is stitched in all of its accuracy and occasional error, right down to the smallest detail by over 200 participants, including lawyers, prisoners, musicians and politicians. Commissioned to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, Cornelia Parker said of the work "'I wanted to create a portrait of our age. All these people have opinions about democracy and I thought carefully about the words they should stitch". 36 prisoners in 13 jails embroidered the bulk of the text, leaving almost 200 gaps for other contributors, including Jarvis Cocker who stitched the words "common" and "people". 

Viewing the piece in person, I was absolutely blown away by its accuracy. The article is replicated in immaculate detail, right down to the links, references and bracketed "[Edit]" options. The exquisite illustrations were completed by members of the Embroiders Guild and they contrast with the sometimes clumsy stitch work of a judge or politician. The combination of perfection and error tell the story of the long list of contributors, adding character and personality. By taking the Wikipedia page off the screen and back into the physical world, Cornelia Parker has immortalised this snapshot of where we stand today on the principles laid out by the famous charter.

Magna Carta (An Embroidery) is on display 15 May - 24 July 2015 @ The British Library 

Post a Comment