What does The Jurors represent?
Twelve intricately worked bronze chairs stand together on this ancient meadow. Each chair incorporates symbols and imagery representing concepts of law and key moments in the struggle for freedom, rule of law and equal rights. The Jurors is not a memorial, but rather an artwork that aims to examine the changing and ongoing significance and influences of Magna Carta. Please note, the Riverside car park is open at the moment from 10am - 5pm, last entry at 4pm, with no booking needed. The Memorials car park and tea-room remain closed.
The chairs appear to be awaiting a gathering: an open invitation from the audience to sit and take a moment to reflect on the issues and histories depicted.
Each chair, front and back, has a main image embellished with flowers, keys and other symbols. To complete the work the artist has coloured and polished some areas, as well as adding slashes and gouges to the surfaces. The result is a rich layering of imagery, marks and textures waiting to be explored.
Below you will find descriptions and explanations of each chair. Chair one is the chair at the head of the set, furthest from the Runnymede car park and tea room.
On the front side of the chair you'll see a portrait of Lillie Lenton, wearing medals and bandages relating to the imprisonment and activism of suffragettes Lenton's image is derived from a 1912 surveillance photograph taken in Holloway Prison. ON the back side of the chair an investigation of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is depicted. Here we see it debated in a modern classroom, though it was ratified in 1990, it was based upon a 1923 document drafted by British social reformer. Eglantyne Jebb.
A reminder of corporate and environmental laws and responsibilities. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska, spilling at least 11 million gallons of crude oil. Subsequent environmental disasters and evidence of the cause and effect of pollution has led to the establishment of new principles such as the Ceres Principles, a moral code of environmental conduct. And one of several representations of prisons. Oscar Wilde's poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol describes the brutalising effect of the prison system. It was published in 1898 while in exile in France and is based on his observations from when he was incarcerated for 'homosexual offences' in 1895.
On the front of the chair you'll see an excerpt from the Magna Carta in its original Latin. It's a section from Clause 39 stating that no one is to be imprisoned without "lawful judgement of his peers", the fundamental principle of trial by jury in common-law legal systems across the world. The back of the chair shows Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to practise law in India. She became a legal advocate for women in purdah in India, whose religious and cultural systems prevented them from speaking to men from outside their family.
On the back of chair four we see the march of blind trade unionists from across the UK who converged on Trafalgar Square in 1920. They marched under the banner "Justice not Charity" in support of the Blind Persons Act, which became law later that year and established disability rights as a fundamental principle in British society. On the front of the fourth chair is an Amerindian headdress, forest and a river clustered with gold nuggets. Indigenous land claims have been addressed, with varying degrees of success on a national and international level, since colonisation. Such claims may be based upon the principles of international law, treaties, common law, or domestic constitutions or legislation.
On the back of the fifth chair is a a portrait of poet Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman (1773). We also see the name Mary Prince, who was the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to the British parliament (1828) and the first black woman to write and publish an autobiography (1831), at a time at which it was claimed that slaves were not capable of such writing. On the front of the fifth chair is a combination of images depicting the Emancipation of the Serfs (1861) by Tsar Alexander II. Serfdom was the feudal system that tied Russian peasants irrevocably to their landlords. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Moscow was to have commemorated the event, but it was never finished due to the Russian Revolution of 1917.
On the back of chair number six we see a portable charkha, or hand spinning wheel for cotton, designed by Mahatma Gandhi and used in the 1930s as a political symbol of resistance to British imported goods and British rule, and later used within the design of the Indian flag. On the front of the chair we see a depiction of a loudhailer belonging to Harvey Milk, gay rights campaigner and first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California from 1977-78. Before his assassination, Milk sponsored a significant civil rights bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.
On the back of the seventh chair we see documents being shredded. The destruction or redaction of evidence is a world-wide activity undertaken by states wishing to hide incriminating documentation of their activities. In 1989 the East German secret police's shredding of files was halted by German citizens taking over the Stasi offices. On the front of the chair is another reference to imprisonment. Nelson Mandela's prison cell where he served 18 years of his life-sentence for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the state. He was released in 1990 after 27 years incarceration.
On the back of chair eight we see two representations of freedom of speech: in public and online. In 2014, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, called for an online Magna Carta to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide. On the back of the chair are many portraits. These represent “The Disappeared” – a collective name for those who been taken away, at the behest of a state or political organisation, across the world. Displays, such as this, erected by protesting relatives play an important role in sustaining a visible reminder that the Disappeared fates go unanswered and are a crime against humanity.
On the back of the ninth chair we find representations of 'The Golden Rule' that states you should treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. Versions of this concept are found in all major world religions and philosophies and the phrase is expressed on The Jurors in 14 different languages. On the front of the ninth chair is a boat carrying refugees inscribed with the names of sea vessels connected to legal cases which marked changes to maritime law, the responsibilities of nations towards refugees, and maritime search and rescue protocols
On the back of the tenth chair is Chinese script that describes the Confucian principles of Ren (humaneness), Li (ritual) and Yi (justice). These ideals are at the core of Confucian ideas of how a society should be organised and were developed in the Han Dynasty (from 206 BC). On the front of the chair is the striking hollow boab tree found in Australia, these trees were adapted in the 1890s by police for use as temporary prisons for aboriginal prisoners. Hew Locke has added additional graffiti to its surface, each date and name referring to the ever-developing history of aboriginal Australians, their land and human rights.
On the back of chair eleven Ancient Egyptian scales are topped with the head of Ma'at, the goddess of truth, justice and balance. A dead person's heart is weighed against a feather to see if the owner is worthy to enter paradise. Ma'at's symbolism is still apparent in the western personification of Lady Justice. On the front of the eleventh chair we see the ship Zong. In 1781, 133 slaves were thrown overboard from this ship. The owners made an insurance claim for the loss of their human cargo and the resulting legal case caused public outcry. On the sails, the west African symbol Epa represents captivity, law and justice.
On the back of the twelfth chair we see the house in Yangon, Burma, where politician Aung San Suu Kyi was held under house arrest for 15 out of 21 years until her release in 2010, despite her political party having fairly won government elections in Burma. On the front we see the xiezhi, a legendary creature and symbol of justice and law in Chinese mythology that can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (from 206 BC). An inherently just beast, the xiezhi will point its horn at the wrong party in a fight or argument. Xiezhi is shown on The Jurors surrounded by scratches and gouges, as though made by its sharp claws.