British artist Cornelia Parker is taking the 800-year-old Magna Carta into the digital age, with a commission to create a nearly 42-foot-long embroidery replicating the entire Wikipedia article on the historic document, as it appeared in a June screenshot. The piece is being stitched by more than 200 people who have been associated with and affected by the medieval charter, including lawyers, civil rights campaigners, barons and politicians. Even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will be picking up a needle to work on Magna Carta (An Embroidery). The bulk of the work, however, is being done by British inmates employed by social enterprise Fine Cell Work (www.finecellwork.co.uk).
Parker says she chose to recreate the Wikipedia entry because that’s the first site many people visit to find out more about the charter that spurred the growth of constitutional law in England and beyond. The Magna Carta entry receives more than 150,000 page views a month. “I spent so much time looking at it that it struck me it was like an illustrated manuscript and it says everything about the Magna Carta,” she told the Press Association, a British news agency. “I wanted to get it off the screen and into a physical object, and the idea of an embroidery came from the fact that the page is embroidered and is always being changed.”
The embroidery was commissioned by the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford in partnership with the British Library, in association with the Embroiderers Guild, Fine Cell Work, Hand & Lock and the Royal School of Needlework. The finished piece will be on display at the British Library this summer.