Magna Carta Manifesto! Event Documentation


A conversation between Ian Boal,  Peter Linebaugh and Owen Griffiths.            At ‘Becoming Garden’, Dolerw Park, Newtown, Wales, 2015.                                An offsite commission for FLORA at Oriel Davies Gallery.

Noted historians, writers and collaborators Iain Boal and Peter Linebaugh visited Becoming Garden in July 2015, this event formed one of the offsite activities that took part in the space. Becoming Garden was developed with the community of Newtown, the local authority and school.

Iain and Peter gave a talk on their research and travels, the relevance of the  Magna Carta (celebrating its 800th year anniversary in 2015)  and the importance of the commons, informing a creative struggle of social justice, protest, land use and how to preserve the commons both as an ideology and as a physical and dwindling resource. Newtown is the birthplace of Robert Owen – 1771-1858 , social reformer, utopian thinker, industrialist, and houses a museums dedicated to his life and work.

Becoming Garden, was a pilot project to re-wild and cultivate a large part of a civic park and to use the spaces we created within it as classrooms, social spaces and as an intervention to create a greater sense of biodiversity.

“Where are these rational practices to be acquired? Not within the four walls of a bare building in which formality dominates…but in the nursery playgrounds, fields, gardens, workshops and manufacturers, museums and classrooms…”

Robert Owen, The Book of The New Moral World

Iain and Peter’s Biographies:

Iain Boal is an Irish social historian of science and technics, affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley and Birkbeck College, London. He is associated with the Retort group, and is one of the co-authors of Retort’s Afflicted Power: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (Verso). He co-edited with James Brook Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information (City Lights), and is author of The Green Machine (Notting Hill Editions), a brief  planetary history of the bicycle.

Peter Linebaugh, an historian currently residing in the region of the American Great Lakes (“the fresh, or third coast”), grew up amid the hopes and rubble of post-war London, was schooled by (among others) a wise woman of Appalachia, U.S. Marines in Bonn, Anglicans in Karachi, Quakers at Swarthmore, and Cold Warriors in New York.  Later he worked with E.P. Thompson at the Centre for the Study of Social History at the University of Warwick to learn the art and craft of “people’s remembrancing” which has taken printed results in Albion’s Fatal Tree, The London Hanged, The Many-Headed Hydra, Magna Carta Manifesto, and Stop, Thief! 




Since Becoming Garden was initiated in April 2015, it has been decided that the project will be allowed to extend and develop in partnership with the Oriel Davies Gallery and Powys County Council, exploring more sites for possible civic re-wilding working with the legacy of Robert Owen and creating more spaces for biodiversity.

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