03 December 2015
Magna Carta (an embroidery) - now on display at the Bodleian Library
If you visited the British Library during summer 2015 you may have seen the 13 metre long Magna Carta Wikipedia embroidery conceived by Cornelia Parker. Commissioned by the Ruskin School of Art, the embroidery was an original piece of modern artwork to complement and enrich the British Library Magna Carta exhibition commemorating the 800th year since Magna Carta was sealed.
The piece was a recreation of the Wikipedia entry of Magna Carta – an interpretation of its influence in a digital era. Much of the embroidery was completed by Fine Cell Work.
The stunning pictorial elements were completed by members of the Embroiderers Guild.
Detail of intricate embroidery
Smaller sections were embroidered by named individuals, some notable, Germaine Greer, Alan Rusbridger, Mary Beard to name a few. Others less so – the British Library Head of Conservation, for example, who was privileged to embroider the hallowed words ‘British Library’.
Piecing together the many individually embroidered sections and making it ready for display was completed by the Royal School of Needlework (RSN). Final touches were completed in the conservation studio at the library by the RSN. A 13 metre long textile was an unusual sight in our studios but given the variety of the British Library's collections, including textiles, nothing fazes us.
Sadly the British Library had to say goodbye to the embroidery in late July and it travelled to Manchester for a period of display at the Whitworth Art gallery. Yet the project remains a particular favourite in British Library Conservation from recent years, probably because we assisted in the creation of something new – a departure from our usual line of work.
If you have not had a chance to see this fascinating artwork you can now see it at the Bodleian Library in Oxford for a limited period.
Cordelia Rogerson, Head of Conservation