Mark Wallinger, Studio Octopi

'Writ in Water'

Runnymede, Surrey, Great Britain - 2018
19. juni 2018
Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
Writ in Water, a major architectural artwork by Mark Wallinger, in collaboration with Studio Octopi, opened over the weekend. It provides a new immersive space for contemplation and reflection at Runnymede, Surrey.
Project: Writ in Water, 2018
Location: Runnymede, Surrey, England
Client: National Trust
Artist: Mark Wallinger
Architect: Studio Octopi
Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
Over 800 years ago, Runnymede, now cared for by the National Trust, witnessed the feudal barons forcing King John to seal Magna Carta – a founding moment in shaping the basis of common law across the world.
 
Writ in Water, commissioned by the National Trust in association with arts producers Situations, celebrates the enduring significance of Magna Carta.
 
Set in the heart of this ancient landscape, Writ in Water reflects upon the founding principles of democracy, and through a meeting of water, sky and light, provides visitors with a space for reflection and contemplation.
Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
Mark Wallinger has drawn inspiration from Clause 39 of Magna Carta and the fundamental principles of justice it embodies.

Clause 39, Magna Carta:

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
The large-scale circular building emerges from the hillside at the base of Cooper’s Hill. The meadow it sits within is flanked by the River Thames on one side and an ox-bow lake on the other, itself a trace of the river’s earlier course.

Responding to this feature of the landscape, Writ in Water takes its name from the inscription on John Keats’ gravestone, which reads, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

Built in cubits, the most ancient unit of measure, and using rammed stone from the site itself, Writ in Water sits at the heart of this ancient land.
Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
An exterior doorway leads to a simple circular labyrinth, in which the visitor can choose to turn left or right to reach an inner doorway that opens out into a central chamber. Here the sky looms through a wide oculus above a pool of water, as reflective as a still font.
 
The sides of the pool are inscribed on the inner side, the water reflecting (much like the seal on Magna Carta itself), the reversed and inverted lettering of Clause 39 as the visitor moves round the pool to reveal its words.
Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
Photo: Andrew Butler, courtesy of National Trust Images
Mark Wallinger with James Lowe of Studio Octopi (Photo: John Millar, courtesy of National Trust Images)

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