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Studio Octopi picked to create Magna Carta memorial at Runnymede

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Studio Octopi has teamed up with Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger for a major new artwork at Runnymede in Surrey celebrating Magna Carta

The duo has been commissioned by The National Trust with art producers Situations to create a new installation – titled Writ in Water – which will be built into the base of Coopers Hill at Runnymede.

The ‘Great Charter’ was signed by King John at the rural site near Windsor more than 800 years ago and played a major role in the development of common law globally. The artwork is partly inspired by Clause 39, which is still part of English law and establishes the basis for trial by jury.

The commission comes nine years after Wallinger won a contest for a huge equestrian statue – known as the White Horse at Ebbsfleet – which, despite receiving planning permission, has so far yet to move forward.

Studio Octopi completed a competition-winning renovation of the Delfina Foundation arts centre – of which Wallinger is a trustee – four years ago.

Commenting on the latest project, Wallinger (pictured below) said: ‘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.’

Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger

Source: Image by National Trust / James Dobson

Mark Wallinger

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

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.’

The Writ in Water project has planning permission and is currently on site but images have yet to be revealed. It will open to the public in February 2018.

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