Fifty years ago it was ‘the thing’ that needed saved. Today it’s the place that inspired the process that needs to be saved.
Fifty years ago the Merzbau was rescued from Elterwater in the Lake District, from the small barn where Kurt Schwitters had been working. It was lifted out, wall of the barn included, and taken to Newcastle. You can see it in the Hatton Gallery.
The Merz Barn remained on the Cylinders Estate in Cumbria – the shell, missing one wall. The Littoral Trust (Ian Hunter, Celia Larner and colleagues), known for social and critical art over 40 years, recognised that the place and the process it inspired was perhaps more important than the object. They certainly recognised that the last place Schwitters worked needed to be recognised as an important site for remembering Entartete Kunst artists, artists classified as degenerate by the Nazis. For more than 10 years they have been working to draw attention to Schwitters and the Merz Barn as a centre for research and practice as well as for remembering.
This appeal came out just now,
Dear Friends of the Merz Barn,
We have had a heartening response to appeals for help in dealing with the damage to the Merz Barn and Cylinders during the recent storms. This has been boosted by coverage in the Westmorland Gazette this week, and also the AN and Architects’ Journal websites.
We are having a site clearance weekend working party from Friday March 11 to Sunday March 13.
Free Bunk Barn accommodation (two nights, limited numbers so please book).
There will be a celebratory Barbecue on the Saturday night with the Lakeland Fiddlers and traditional musicians (tbc). No need to have been part of the Working Party to join in! All welcome – bring a bottle, or food for grilling, if convenient.
Please let us know if you are coming, email or phone. Here’s hoping the weather will be better by then!
With best wishes,
The Merz Barn, Cylinders Estate, Langdale, Ambleside LA22 9JB
Tel: 015394 37309