Magna Carta (An Embroidery) is a 2015 work by English installation artist Cornelia Parker . [1] 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. [1]

The hand-stitched embroidery is 1.5 meters wide and nearly 13 meters 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 Wikipedians up to that date. [1] It was commissioned by the Ruskin School of Artat the University of Oxford in partnership with the British Library, [2] after being selected from a shortlist of artists in February 2014. [3]

Parker used a screenshot from the 15 June 2014 English Wikipedia article for Magna Carta and printed it into fabric. Like Wikipedia, the embroidery was created through the collaboration of many individuals. It was divided into 87 sections and sent to 200 individuals who each hand-stitched portions of the artwork. Magna Carta is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Women. [4] The majority of the text was sewn by prisoners. [5] Members of the Embroiderers’ Guildstitched the images, with at least one embroiderer selected from each region of the UK. [6] Many celebrities and public figures also contribute, stitching sentences or words of special significance to them. [7] The echoing of the communal activity 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 . ” [1]

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. [7]

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 Libraryfrom 15 May until 24 July 2015, [1] 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 rentals in the rest of 2016 and 2017. [8]


Detail of the work on the image of the 1297 copy of Magna Carta on display in the Members’ Hall of Parliament House, Canberra, Australia
The whole embroidery

Parker invited some 200 people to hand-stitch portions of the work including prison inmates, civil rights campaigners, MPs, lawyers, barons and artists. [1] 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. [9] 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 The Retreat Roman Catholic Girls’ School , London were the youngest contributors to the work. [10]

Parker invited to contribute to the work, but they declined. She said that she was more likely to decline; Both Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond also declined to contribute. [11]

List of contributors
  • Julian Assange – “freedom” [7]
  • Mary Beard
  • Shami Chakrabarti – “Charter of Liberties” [12]
  • Kenneth Clarke
  • Jarvis Cocker – “common people” for the song of the same name [7]
  • Brian Eno – “in perpetuity” [7]
  • Anthea Godfrey (Embroiderers’ Guild) – image of Pope Innocent III [7]
  • Antony Gormley
  • Germaine Greer
  • Igor Judge, Baron Judge and Lady Judith Judge – “Habeas Corpus” [12]
  • Christopher Le Brun – “folio”
  • Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon – “justice”, “denial” and “delay” [12]
  • Caroline Lucas
  • Eliza Manningham-Buller – “freedom” [12]
  • James McNeill QC – “Abbots – witnesses”
  • Caitlin Moran
  • Cornelia Parker – “prerogative” [7]
  • Janet Payne (Embroiderers’ Guild) – image of John of England signing Magna Carta [6]
  • Philip Pullman – “Oxford” [7]
  • Alan Rusbridger – “contemporary political relevance” [7]
  • Edward Snowden – “liberty” [7]
  • Clive Stafford Smith – stitched his contribution while visiting a client at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp [7]
  • Peter Tatchell – “democracy” (shared with Parker) [7]
  • Jimmy Wales – “user’s manual” [12]
  • Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi – “freedom” [12]
  • Baroness Shirley Williams
  • Students from the Retreat Roman Catholic Girls’ School – “Salisbury Cathedral”, “Durham Cathedral”, “South Africa” ​​and “Australia” [10]


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

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