4th March 2015, 4:23pm
Celebrating Magna Carta through art in the historic city of Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral Quarter Leading international artists will create a series of unique installations across the city of Lincoln, UK, as part of a new contemporary arts programme inspired by the Magna Carta.

This year, as the world celebrates the 800th anniversary of the ‘grand charter’ – sealed by King John at Runnymede in 1215 AD and now recognised as the cornerstone of modern democracies – the University of Lincoln will unveil a series of thought-provoking artworks based on the themes of liberty, justice and human rights.

Bringing together acclaimed international artists with local community groups, including young people and schoolchildren, the programme will encourage participants and public audiences to consider the legacy of the ideas first put forward in Magna Carta in the thirteenth century.

The artistic programme will also explore Lincoln’s place in the Magna Carta story, with the original 1215 manuscript owned by Lincoln Cathedral one of only four known to survive anywhere in the world. Lincoln is unique in that it also holds one of the only two surviving originals of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, which dealt with the "unfinished business" of Magna Carta: the area of forest law.

Drawing on the Roman term for “a training space for body and mind”, the innovative public art programme is entitled Gymnasium.

Gymnasium will be led by the University of Lincoln with funding from Arts Council England, together with the Henry Moore Foundation, The Elephant Trust, The Heslam Trust, the Magna Carta 800 Trust and the Goethe Institut.

International artists Ruth Ewan, Annika Eriksson and Raqs Media Collective will visit the University of Lincoln’s School of Fine & Performing Arts to develop original art installations, which will then be showcased in public places across the city.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, said: “Gymnasium represents an exciting opportunity for the University and city of Lincoln. We are pleased to be welcoming such fascinating artists, who practice and exhibit around the world, to come and create new works specifically for Lincoln. I look forward to seeing the new projects, which will make further artistic connections between the campus and the city, exhibited in the coming months.”

Jeanine Griffin, Reader in Contemporary Curatorial Practices from the University of Lincoln’s School of Fine and Performing Arts is curating the programme. She said: “We are delighted to be launching Gymnasium in what is a truly historic year for the city of Lincoln, as it will deliver new and exciting works for the public to enjoy.  With installations taking place throughout the civic fabric of the city, the programme will emanate from the University of Lincoln and therefore have at its heart an institution of learning; just as the original gymnasia would have had.”

Alongside the public exhibitions there will be associated presentations at the University of Lincoln’s Project Space Plus gallery, as well as a series of printed works.

The first commission will come from London-based Scottish artist Ruth Ewan, who is renowned for work highlighting the continued relevance of particular historic moments, often focused on the social and political history of the site on which it is based. She worked recently with Tate Britain on a project exploring the historic location of a prison on the gallery site, and on The Liberties of the Savoy, which took inspiration from the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 and saw 200 young people produce a unique event at the Savoy Hotel.

In Lincoln, Ruth Ewan will work with young people from the local area, taking inspiration from the city’s historic connections with Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest. Further details of Ruth’s project in Lincoln will be revealed later this year.

Gymnasium is one of a number of pioneering new programmes from the University of Lincoln to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. In recognition of the landmark, the University has named 2015 its ‘Year of Liberty’ and later this year will host a number of internationally-renowned Artists in Residence as part of the exciting Lincoln Voices initiative.

To register your interest in the Gymnasium project and to receive regular updates, visit: www.gymnasium-projects.org
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