Magna Carta (an Embroidery) is the latest work by artist Cornelia Parker, which went on display today at the British Library, London. By chance I was booked today to visit the library for my own research so it was an opportunity to take a look, in particular to see the piece embroidered by our own E.A.S.T mentor Anthea Godfrey.
The work is an embroidered copy of the Wikepedia article about Magna Carta as it was on the document's 799th anniversary. Now in its 800th year, the British Library has an exhibition about the importance of this document to British constitutional history until 1 September 2015 - Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, and the embroidery is being shown to coincide with this.
The finished piece is almost 13 metres long and is displayed in the Folio Gallery, which can be accessed just by going up the stairs (or escalators) in front of the main entrance. The exhibition is free and includes a film about the making of the work (which also includes Anthea). Anthea's piece is an illustration of Pope Innocent III worked in or nue, a technique of goldwork where coloured threads are couched over gold. It is a technique that would have been familiar to embroiderers of the thirteenth century, and not surprisingly it is beautifully done.
The library is quite happy for photographs to be taken in this area, although it is impossible to take anything that really shows it to its full advantage. It really needs to be seen up close. Look out also for the mirrors set below the images so you can see the back of the work - I wish the back of my work was as good!
Other contributors to the work included prisoners (Fine Cell Work) alongside judges, barristers, solicitors, campaigners for civil liberties as well as curators, musicians, academics, librarians, etc, etc. Embroiderers from the Embroiderer's Guild, Royal School of Needlework and Hand and Lock also contributed - more than 200 people in all.
For more information, visit the British Library website - the embroidery will be on display until 24 July 2015.