Turner Prize winning artist to create new work to celebrate Magna Carta

Press release
Artist Mark Wallinger at Runnymede
Published : 01 Aug 2017 Last update : 06 Dec 2017

A new public artwork by British artist Mark Wallinger has been commissioned by the National Trust, in association with Situations, as part of an ongoing celebration of Magna Carta’s global significance at Runnymede, Surrey.

Over 800 years ago at Runnymede the feudal barons forced King John to seal Magna Carta, a founding moment in shaping the basis of common law across the world.

As part of a project that reimagines the Runnymede site, [1] Mark Wallinger, in collaboration with architectural practice Studio Octopi, will create Writ in Water, an installation inspired by Clause 39 of Magna Carta. [2]

The contemporary artwork will be a tranquil space in which to reflect, offering visitors the chance to consider the continuing significance and influences of Magna Carta.

Artist Mark Wallinger comments:

“The use of reflection to make the text legible plays against the idea of a law ‘written in stone’. The UK still does not have a written constitution. Thus the value of memorialising and revisiting Magna Carta is that it reminds each generation that the rights of man need to be fought for and renegotiated constantly.”

 "The title of the work is inspired by John Keats’ gravestone that bears the inscription ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water’, an indication of the poet’s despairing regard for his own legacy."

Writ in Water has been commissioned as part of the National Trust’s ongoing contemporary art programme, Trust New Art.

John Orna-Ornstein, National Trust’s Director of Curation and Experience said:

“We’re delighted to announce this collaboration with Mark Wallinger, Situations, Studio Octopi and our other partners to create a space for reflection at Runnymede.

“This commission marks a significant moment for the National Trust, showing how we can bring together contemporary culture and ancient landscape, and wider historical narratives with the detailed context of individual places, in a way that will enhance this special site for visitors for years to come.”

Mark Wallinger was selected through a competitive process led by art producers, Situations, who have been developing the work with the artist in collaboration with Studio Octopi, an award-winning London based architectural studio, over the past two years.

Writ in Water has been made possible through the generous support of an Arts Council England Exceptional Award, Art Fund, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Henry Moore Foundation and Lord and Lady Lupton, with additional support from Iwan and Manuela Wirth and Valeria and Rudolf Maag-Arrigoni.

Construction for Writ in Water begins this week and the artwork will be built into the base of Coopers Hill at Runnymede.

Writ in Water will open to the public by February 2018.