Kurt Schwitters' last Merzbau: The Elterwater Merz Barn

Merz Barn update: May 2017

MzB 1.11.16

The Merz Barn, autumn 2016 

2017 is the 70th anniversary of the year in which Kurt Schwitters created his unfinished but truly great installation in the Merz Barn in the lovely valley of Langdale in the English Lake District.

The Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, which houses it, will be unveiling the Merz Barn artwork in the autumn, restored as closely as possible to its state in 1965, when an extension was built to house it there.  And at Cylinders too we will be celebrating the anniversary with a special programme of artists’ events and festivities.  The scale of these will depend on the outcome of our bid to the Arts Lottery for funding, and we will be releasing the programme in a separate update once we know what this is.  Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile the year has got off to a good start, as those of you who have been visiting the Merzbarn Langdale FaceBook site will know.

Reparations at the Merz Barn and the Cylinders site to date

with deep gratitude to:  Galerie Gmurzynska (Zurich), the Cumbria Community Fund, Cumbria University Department of Fine Art, the Dulverton Trust, Hadfield Trust, Sir John Fisher Foundation, Merzfunder donations, KitschKunst, and all our valiant volunteers.

Some of the funding from trusts included a component for work with youth groups, refugee groups, schoolchildren, and the community, and this is also under way.

Site Works

The Littoral Trust has completed all the emergency repairs to the Merz Barn, and carried out essential débris clearance and tree felling/removal to enable us to re-open the site to artists, school groups, and the general public.   We have employed Andrew Shepherd, conservation architect, to prepare drawings and submit planning proposals to the L.D.N.P.A for the repairs to the Shippon and the Drawing Office.  This took several site visits, and therefore more time than anticipated, but we are hoping that acceptance of the proposals will come through soon, upon which work will start immediately on these two buildings.

The first stage (emergency) restoration work enabled the Merz Barn and most of the Cylinders site to be re-opened by July 2016.  The main workshop programme was postponed until summer this year (2017), and the site and buildings have been made ready.

Sam and Ben replacing the Merz Barn skylight


Re-styling the outdoor workshop area


 We are delighted to announce that artist Heather Ross has been awarded a 3 year PhD scholarship at the University of Newcastle to carry out research into the women artists in Langdale associated with Kurt Schwitters.

Heather & press

Heather Ross with artist Gwyneth Alban’s vintage printing press

Heather Ross and print-maker Lukas Hornby have been awarded a Heritage Lottery grant to create a complex new artwork using artist Gwyneth Alban Davis’s old printing press, housed in the Shippon Gallery at Cylinders.

LARP NEWSFLASH!    ‘The Kindred’   A 3 day larp exploring the tensions between the idyllic Kibbo Kift Kindred, and Art students living in exile alongside Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Barn during WW2.    With artist Adam James

Late summer 2017, watch this space….

Bar & Smoke Room

Evacuee Royal College of Art students in Ambleside, c. 1943

Summary of events at Cylinders since January, with some photos.

 January was almost entirely taken up with writing a bid to the Arts Lottery for the 2017 celebratory programme.  The outcome should be with us this month, and the programme will then be released.

February 10th to 12th  30 Royal College of Art students at Cylinders, staying in the TOC H bunk barn at Chapel Stile.

.. such a lovely evening with our first group residency of the year. 31 RSA students arriving tired from their 7 hour journey. Soup, sausages, and a crisp evening with a full snow moon, and a gigantic bonfire that started with an explosion to blow your eyebrows off, faded to a despondent ember, and then was miraculously revived (well, I say miraculously, but a gallon or two of diesel plus all the candle ends from the Merz Barn may have helped) into a memorable conflagration. Steve Grundy, musician and performer, infused the evening with Cumbrian, Irish, Scottish, joy, melancholy, joy.. What a night!

A beautiful image from the first night of the RCA residency at the Merz Barn last month, ‘His Glowing Self’. Musician Steve Grundy contemplates the raging bonfire before launching into one of the renditions, sung and spoken, that made the evening memorable.

RSA 'Glowing'

Photo by Myha Baum.

February 25th to 26th

Merz Rubbish:  Michael Holland Exhibition in the Shippon Gallery.

Michael Holland

Michael Holland with his exhibition in the Shippon Gallery

Exhibition of work made using recycling bin and street pickings between 2013 and 2017 during the artist’s time at Islington Mill in Salford as well as residencies in La Escocesa Barcelon, and work made on the streets of various other European cities.

March 21st to 23rd

Manchester School of Architecture students workshopped at Cylinders, staying in the TOC H bunk barn at Chapel Stile

MSA group

M.S.A. at Cylinders, March 2017

March 22nd:  Merz North Conference, University of York.  Presentations by Heather Ross and Jackie Haynes.Merz North 2017 copy

March 24th:  artist Alice Wilson began a 3 week residency at Cylinders, sponsored by Dolph.

Alice 2

March 27th to 29th:  17 University of Salford students were in residency at Cylinders with tutor artist Jill Randall, staying in the TOC H bunk barn at Chapel Stile.

March 23rd to April 3rd:  20 Fine Art MA students from Goldsmiths, University of London,  in residency, staying in the TOC H bunk barn at Chapel Stile.

RSA in MzB

MA students from Goldsmiths in the Merz Barn on April 2nd, preparing for a hilarious first-and-only performance of the ‘Ursonate’. Who needs rehearsals!

April 17th to 24th:  Heather Ross and Lukas Hornby were in residence in the Shippon Gallery working on the preliminary stages of their HLF funded project.   With the help of expert Giles Hovenden they restored Gwyneth Alban’s ancient printing press, catalogued and cleaned her 120 original print blocks, and began the process of printing the first series of images from them.

Giles Hovenden adjusting the Merz Barn printing press yesterday for the start of the project by Heather Ross and Lukas Hornby (left).

April 25th   Members of the Coppice Association visited Cylinders to discuss the  Gunpowder project planned for September.

Confirmed future event

The Ambleside Art Society will be mounting an Exhibition in the Shippon Gallery during June and July 2017.


Author: https://www.facebook.com/MerzBarnLangdale/?fref=ts

The site where Kurt Schwitters created his last great Merz artwork

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