Kurt Schwitters – Merz Barn

Last year, on a ‘heritage open day’, I had the pleasure of visiting the Merz Barn near Elterwater in the Lake District.  This small stone barn on the Cylinders estate is where German artist Kurt Schwitters worked whilst living in exile after fleeing to Britain in the 1940s, finally settling in Ambleside.  My discovery of Schwitters’ work came about initially through John Darwell, whose ‘After Schwitters’ photographic work was exhibited in the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle in 2013.  Since, I have visited the Armitt Museum and Abbott Hall and seen work by Schwitters there.  I find the story of Kurt Schwitters an intriguing one; I am fascinated by his Merz art work and the diverse methods and materials he employed to create art; he was skilful in making something out of nothing.  In my own small way I can also appreciate his unsettlement, moving from place to place to find security and tranquillity. Perhaps that is what drew me to his story.

“The word ‘Merz’ was used in the sense of a bringing together of discarded or broken fragments to make a new whole, and also of signifying the inherent one-ness of a creation that could be shattered by war or circumstance, but could be re-combined by the healing genius of the artist.”  Source: https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com/kurt-schwitters/

Recently I received an email to notify me of events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Merz Barn (24th/25th June 2017) and I hope to revisit.  Coincidentally, the arrival of this email came straight after the receipt of a set of 35mm negatives in the post.  (When I visited last year, I had just one camera film, and its processing had been delayed until recently.  Images from that film are at www.juliedawndennis.co.uk


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