Kurt Schwitters' last Merzbau: The Elterwater Merz Barn

70th Anniversary VIP Reception at the Merz Barn

Saturday July 15th 2017 at 1 pm

at the Merz Barn, Cylinders, Elterwater, Ambleside


The Human Organs at Cylinders earlier in July with members of the Lakeland FiddlersEnter a caption

All Welcome!

the event will be attended by:

Jens-Peter Voss, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany

Richard Demarco C.B.E. Director of the Demarco European Art Foundation

Leith & Christine Hallatsch, the Mayor and Mayoress of Windermere

and members of the Windermere/Diessen Twinning Association 

1 pm        Light Luncheon for VIPs and Guests

2 pm        Short recital of excerpts from Schwitters’ ‘Ursonate’ by Ian Hinde.

2.10 pm   Introduction by Richard Demarco C.B.E. Director of the Demarco European Art FoundationThe significance of the year 1947 -some major turning points in the history of British art and culture. 

2.25 pm   The Mayor of Windermere Cllr. Leith Hallatsch and the Mayoress Christine Hallatsch:  Welcome address to the Consul General, and an introduction to the Windermere/Diessen Twinning Association.

2.35 pm   The Consul General is welcomed by a spokesperson for the Langdale Community

2.45 pm   Jens-Peter Voss, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany:  Official speech to honour the 70th anniversary of Kurt Schwitters’ last ‘Merzbau’, the Langdale Merz Barn.

3 pm        The ceremony concludes.

Guests are welcome to stay on for a glass of wine and a musical programme with The Human Organs led by John Hall, and Carolyn Francis of the Lakeland Fiddlers (Border Bagpipes and Fiddle).


The Elterwater Merz Barn project is managed by the Littoral Arts Trust

Reg. Charity No. 1002365



Public Funding for the Merz Barn Project

It has come to our notice that some nonsensical claims are being published and disseminated against the Merz Barn project and the Littoral Trust by a certain individual and his cronies.  The defamation has been going on since 1998, and we have more or less become used to it, but it is not fair to our many supporters to leave it hanging.

Mostly the lengthy screeds which some of you will have received consist of academic quibbles and half truths.  The crazy financial claims however are more damaging, and we are therefore taking the step of publishing the true figures of public funding received by the Littoral trust for the Merz Barn project over the past 10 years.


P.S.:  we forgot to include in this schedule the £2,000 contributed by South Lakes District Council to the costs of preparing and publishing the 2015 Consultancy Report on the Future of the Merz Barn.

KSDIY17 Kurt Schwitters ‘DIY’ Summer School

14th – 22nd July 2017,  at the Merz Barn site, Elterwater, Cumbria


The view of the Langdale valley near the Merz Barn; 5000 year old rock art carvings are also found on the boulders to the right

A ten day hands-on Summer School for architecture, craft/design artists and students based at the site of Kurt Schwitters’ last Merzbau experiment, the Elterwater Merz Barn, Cumbria  <www.merzbarn.net>

“Schwitters’ Merzbau experiments were an important influence on the development of early modern architecture..”    (Rem Koolhaas OMA)

KS Birthday

Happy anniversray Kurt! his year (2017) we are also celebrating the 70th anniversary of Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn project;archive photo of Schwitters (seated far right) at the Merz Barn site, June 1947 – with the cheque for $1,000 from MoMA NYC in his pocket

The Summer School will offer creative workshop opportunities*, architectural experiments and construction skills projects located in the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District National Park:

(1)  Merzbau Art Museum – design and construction of large scale architectural models as the basis for a future Kurt Schwitters Merzbau art museum; the narratives of Kurt Schwitters’ four Merzbauten projects (1923-48)

(2)  New Rural Design and Architecture workshop skills – learn traditional rural craft       construction skills – dry stone walling, coppice/benders, and sleeping pods in the orchard

(3)  Traditional scything, hay rope making and hay meadow management    An introduction to the use of the Austrian (light) and English (heavy) scythes; basic scything skills,    grass architecture and hay rope making, and basic intro. to hay meadow ecology and management


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(4) Self-directed projects; e.g. in painting, drawing, photography, video, audio arts, and         printmaking, etc., are also encouraged.   We have a small gallery and tools store on site.        But students are responsible for their own materials, food and cooking arrangements.

*NB the workshops are informal and programmed according to demand. They can also be offered as one or two half day intensives by arrangement so that people can mix.

Fees:    £195 including fully equipped bunk barn accommodation (9 nights) and workshop tuition

£100 non-bunk barn, free use of camping facilities, showers, etc, on site at the Merz Barn

For further information and bookings please contact:  The Merz Barn project (Ian or Celia)  at <littoral@btopenworld.com>  T. 015394 37309   M 07796 617167   <www.merzbarn.net>



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.



Many of you may know that the designer of the Merz Barn Langdale website, MARTIN CAMPBELL, died very suddenly last year.  Martin was a friend as well as our webmaster, and we still feel his loss very deeply.


Martin Campbell at Cylinders, 2015

As a consequence we lost editorial control for a while, only righted yesterday when Martin’s widow Cecilia was able to make the site over to Littoral, and Celia Larner can now begin to fill in the gaps in the record.

A brief update on events at Cylinders so far this year (2017) will follow soon, and after that Celia will begin again to add to the pages proper of the website.

A fairly full record of the period that was without website updates is also to be found on the Merz Barn Langdale FaceBook page, and also in the occasional newsletters that are sent out to those who have signed up as Friends of the Merz Barn, of which there are now over 800!

If you would like your name to be included amongst the Friends (and we have promised that you will never be asked for money!) just send an email to us at <littoral@btopenworld.com>.

KS16: MerzHerbst Guest Lecture, Saturday October 8th, 7.30 pm

Barbecue in the marquee, Autumn School 2013

Barbecue in the marquee, Autumn School 2013

The Merz Barn, Cylinders Estate, Elterwater, Cumbria LA22 9JB

Saturday 8th October Workshops and Seminars

10am – 5pm   Rural craft demonstrations and Merzbau architecture seminars:

  • MAM Merz Art Museum – future plans for a Merzbau/Kurt Schwitters Art Museum;
  • MERZSHED – Zaha Hadid MerzShed project – proposals for a new centre for contemporaryrural art design and architecture;
  • Lakes Pioneer Garden Design – introduction to the Harry Pierce Lakeland landscape gardendesign project (1940s/60s) and environmental reserve at the Cylinders Estate.2 – 5.30pm Seminars:  Schwitters and Dada, Gwyneth Alban printmaking project

Dada 1003⁄4 the Merz Barn Project as a Power Station, generating artistic output around the legacy of Kurt Schwitters and Merz.  Jackie Haynes Kurt Schwitters PhD scholarship artist researcher at University of Cumbria Institute for the Arts, will provide information about a variety of interconnected art events occurring in this centenary year of Dada.

7.30pm Annual Kurt Schwitters lecture:

‘The Afterlife of Dada’ (The fate of Dada under Nazism) Professor Michael White, History of Art, University of York

9pm  ‘The Reading of the Names’

10pm+  MerzHerbst Party music and readings with invited musicians, poets and performers

Sunday 9th 11am – 1pm:  informal seminars and walks in the hills nearby – departure 2pm.

Registration fee: £10.00 (for workshops, seminars, party, and free on site accommodation Friday & Saturday nights) *BBQ dinner extra – suggested donation £5.

Accommodation: Free accommodation available on site (Friday and Saturday nights) in a yurt, two caravans and there is plenty of free camping space on the site. The site also has kitchen, marquees, toilets and a shower. Limited bunk barn accommodation available on request.

For more information please contact Ian Hunter or Celia Larner at the Merz Barn: T. 015394 37309 e. littoral@btopenworld.com w. <www.merzbarn.net>

*Not all artists declared Entartete Kunst were active anti-Nazis. Some like Emil Nolde were pro-Nazi, and continued working, albeit in private, under the Nazi regime. But most were prevented from publicly exhibiting their work, and many departed Germany and sought refuge in Britain and the USA.

All the better to hear you with…my dear, Gwyneth   Heather Ross, Artist and Lecturer at

The University of Central Lancashire. The re-activation of Gwyneth Alban’s letterpress, in conjunction with the book ‘Kurt Schwitters in England,’ by Stefan Themerson, and ‘on being out of touch’, which explores the tension between sound/language and visual/written description, in relation to ornithology.

6 pm BBQ and dinner in the open air (weather permitting) BYO food and drink

MERZWORD FESTIVAL Saturday September 3rd, 2016

Event promoted by Kunst-Kitsch Art Collective


Tickets are £5.

All proceeds from tickets/food/booze etc. on the night go directly to the Merz Barn fund.

Please share and promote the event, and help to raise awareness for the Merz Barn and Kurt Schwitters, the man who made it happen.