Sunday, 26 March 2017

Hew Locke at Runnymede

The recent (2015, to mark 600th anniversary of Magna Carta) installation on a water meadow by the Thames at Runnymede, created by sculptor Hew Locke  features a whole range of less well-commemorated events and individuals from around the world, set in low relief bronze on the upright faces, front and back of 12 chairs. 

 There is a leaflet to identify them  and a website
 The leaflet says   'Please do sit on and touch the artwork... The chairs appear to be awaiting a gathering, discussion or debate of some kind: an open invitation to the artist for the audience to sit, to reflect and to discuss the implications of the histories and issues depicted'.   these are: Lillie Lenton, Suffragette; UN Convention on the rights of the Child, initiated in 1923 by Eglantyne Jebb; the Exxon Valdez oil pollution, Alaska 1989; Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol; Magna Carta clause 39 on trial by jury; Cornelia Sorabji, lawyer and women's advocate; UK Blind Persons Act 1920; Amerindian land rights;  Phyllis Wheatley and Mary Prince;  Emancipation of the Serfs, Russia, 1861; Mahatma Gandhi;  Harvey Milk;  citizen interventions to stop shredding of Stasi files, 1989; Nelson Mandela; Tim Berners Lee's call for internet free use; memorials to the 'Disappeared'; the Golden Rule of do as you would be done by; maritime refugee rights; Confucian principles of justice, ritual and humaneness; aboriginal Australian land rights; ancient Egyptian symbols of truth and justice; the murder of 133 enslaved  Africans on the  Zong ship 1781; Aung San Su Kyi's house in Burma;  the legendary Chinese creature xiezhi, symbol of justice. 
Too much information, maybe.  But they looked splendid and intriguing in the March sun. 

Nearby are a couple of American memorials, one celebrating the Charter itself as the origin of western democracy [?], one memorialising JFK.  Atop the hill behind, a major WW2 portico and tower commemorates those from British and Commonwealth air forces who died on active service.

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