Kurt Schwitters' last Merzbau: The Elterwater Merz Barn

MERZ BARN Exhibition Openings

August 2018

‘MERZ IN THE MOMENT’ – Exhibition by members of the Abbott Hall Dementia Group.  

PRIVATE VIEW:  Friday, August 3rd 2018 at 2pm.

The ‘In The Moment’ Exhibition goes up!


CHRIS ROBERTS:  COLLAGE-BASED EXHIBITION of works produced during his week-long July residency at Cylinders.

PRIVATE VIEW:  Saturday August 4th, at 6pm

Chris Roberts:  images in progress at Cylinders


‘OUROBOROS’ EXHIBITION:  APAO (All Possibilities Are Open), Kendal

Ouroboros Flyer

APAO Artists:  Steve Trevillion;  Delcia McNeil;  Rosie Wates

PRIVATE VIEW:  Sunday, August 5th 2018, 3 – 6pm

K.S. Summer School in progress

The first night bonfire:  students from the Royal College of art round the bonfire with Steve Grundy and his concertina performing a selection of Cumbrian and Irish traditional songs and tunes.

1st night bonfire for web

Drystone walling with Steve Grundy and Ian Hunter, July 15th;  and Charlie Whinney, steam-bender and artist, with Steve Grundy, July 16th.

2018-07-19 recreation sm

The Summer School project for July 19th was to ‘reconstruct’ the lost collage created by Schwitters on July 19th 1919. The original was hung derisively upside down at the 1937 ‘Entartete Kunst’ exhibition in Munich.

Degenerate-Hitler-Ziegler (1)

Dada sm

The ‘rediscovered’ collage was ceremoniously hung in the Merz Circle, displayed next to a tapestry depicting George Grosz’s original Dada slogan (also used in the Degenerate Art exhibition): Take Dada Seriously: it’s worth it!’

Project master-minded by artist Mike Healey (in hat), here seen with Ian Hinde, who performed a version of Schwitters’ ‘Ur-Sonate’, and Steve Grundy, who provided the music.

2018-07-19 dance circle 2

Impromptu dancing display by the RCA students, with Steve on the accordion.

More KS18 pics:



COLLAGE – an exhibition featuring the work of Mike Healey


Healey Poster May 2018

Exhibition of the work of Kendal Artist Ike Healey

Shippon Gallery

May 6th to June 3rd 2018

open daily 10am to 5pm

Artist’s Statement:

For the last five years I have lived and worked on a Greek island.

Corfu, away from the tourist sites, is a lush expanse of olive groves, secret lakes, dark forests and unyielding mountains – a landscape where ancient gods and goddesses once walked, spreading fear and veneration in equal measure.

It is, therefore, a haunted island and any artist worth his or her salt must recognize the indefinable, ineluctable presence of these pagan forces.

Many of the paintings in this exhibition therefore have their origins in Greece and reflect, I hope, the veneration I have for ‘place’ – wherever it may be.

This takes many forms, including close study of indigenous plant forms, rock formations and specific landscapes.

Here, at the Merzbarn, similar concerns shape my thinking.

While the Lake District may not immediately summon up Greek landscapes, the close affinity one feels with nature is at work here too, not least in the drawings I plan to complete during this residency.

Schwitters used collage in fresh and original ways. We are all in his debt for although he may not have been the first (I suspect that Picasso and Georges Braque can make that claim) he refined and enriched this technique of abrupt and unexpected visual juxtapositions.

For me, Max Ernst too was a formidable influence, especially when I started as an artist, some fifty years ago.

Here, in this small exhibition, there are numerous examples of my own struggles with this genre. Although I avoided bus tickets and the like, the juxtaposition of images in my case may derive in part from my professional career as a stage and film director. Film is fundamentally a medium in which, in one twenty-fourth of a second, it is possible to change visual direction, creating dramatic contrasts and tensions.

Collage, at its best, does just that.

For an artist like me to share – if only for a week or so – the place where a great Modernist once worked is itself a thrill.  We are lucky that he passed this way, pausing – before an untimely death in Kendal in 1948 – to spread his magic and imbrue the barn and the surrounding estate with some of his aura.

Kurt Schwitters may not be an ancient Greek god but here, at the Merzbarn, he is a living presence.

Mike Healey



Kurt Schwitters 70th anniversary memorial events on Sunday 7th January 2018, in Ambleside and Kendal

Kirkwood Cover Image

One of the great modern artists of the 20th century, Kurt Schwitters, died almost penniless and largely forgotten on the 8th January 1948 in what was then the Kendal Workhouse infirmary after spending his final years in Ambleside.

Sunday 7th January – 70th anniversary memorial programme:

2 pm:  Kurt Schwitters Dada poetry and Ursonate recital – Queens Hotel, Ambleside

It is said that Schwitters would from time to time perform his poems and recitations in some of the Ambleside pubs.   In honour of this, and also the award of his British citizenship papers on 7th January 1948*, we have invited Florian Kaplick and Ian Hinde to perform the Ursonate and other poems by or about Kurt Schwitters at the Queens Hotel in Ambleside.   Lunch 1 – 2 pm, and performances 2 – 3 pm.

4 pm:  70th anniversary memorial event – Caroline Street, (off Windermere Rd.) Kendal
Artists, poets, musicians and writers in Cumbria will gather at Caroline Street Kendal at the site of the former Workhouse Infirmary, at 4 pm on Sunday 7th January 2018 to lay a wreath in Schwitters’ honour and read poems in memory of the artist, on what is the eve of the 70th anniversary of his death in Kendal (8th January 1948).   All welcome.

6 pm onwards: BBQ at the Merz Barn, Elterwater, LA 22 9JB.

All are invited to a BBQ event (BYO) at the Merz Barn in Elterwater, with music and song provided by the ever-talented and joyous Merzmusos Carolyn Francis and Steve Grundy.

The Merz Barn – Cylinders Estate, Elterwater, Cumbria LA 22 9JB

T. 015394 37309

littoral@btopenworld.com <www.merzbarn.net>


*Kurt Schwitters was awarded his British citizenship papers just the day before he died; 7th January 1948.  Unfortunately he was by them too ill to sign them.


SUNDAY SEPT. 24 TO OCT. 12 2017

PRIVATE VIEW SEPT 24th, from 2 pm – All Welcome!

The exhibition includes paintings, prints, collages, sculptures, ceramics and diorama. Exhibiting artists include: Gordon Baddeley, Roger Bell, Averyl Bradbrook, Barbra Cropper, John Davenport, Ann Marie Foster, Janet Graves, Mike Healey, Marion Kuit, Cally Lawson, Karen Lester, Anne MacKinnon, Jilll Pemberton, Elizabeth Shorrock, Keith Shorrock, Steve Trevillion, Sonja Vietoris, Geraldine Walkington, Andy Wild and Frances Winder.

The Merz Barn, Cylinders Estate, Langdale, Ambleside LA22 9JB is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm each day.

“When researching Schwitter’s work I found that I could draw some links between the processes he used and my own, even though our styles are very different’” said Janet Graves. “I also incorporate found objects in my work which is site specific. I use twigs stalks and grasses for mark making and also for making charcoal. I used my time at the Merz Barn to sketch, photograph and gather objects. These will be presented in my final piecewhich reflects my respect for Schwitter’s techniques and the beautiful environment of the Merz Barn.”

In her art work titled, ‘Hood E’, Ann Marie Foster references the papery territory of Schwitters and his use of the discarded debris of the every day.

“I took faded paper patterns used in dressmaking and collaged them to create another layer of meaning,” explained Ann Marie. “These opaque, ghostly papers refer to previous identities of the wearer. The garments carefully constructed from the paper patterns have been shed along with the previous selves that inhabited them.  In my use of collage materials I’ve contrasted the mechanical nature of the lines imprinted on the paper patterns compared with the fluid, intuitive contours of the figures.”

Cally Lawson has created a large collage, inspired by Kurt Schwitters’ collages and his use of found objects. ‘Beyond the Lines’ incorporates a reclaimed frame and an old stag skull and antlers. Emulating the colour palette, use of found objects and abstract style of Schwitter’s famous collages, this artwork evolved from the intricate natural lines in the skull’s structure.

Andy Wild’s ‘Melting Angel’ is a piece from object found to object formed. It is metal from a fallen drain pipe made into a sculpture that appears to be melting away. It has moved from a drain pipes destruction to a construction of a sculpture to an image of melting into destruction again.


Mike Healey

Mike Healey’s complex three-dimensional diorama is an expression of Schwitters’ celebrated claim that perspective is a ‘swindle’.

“I have inverted normal perspective, so that images close to the viewer are small whereas objects further away are large, thereby ‘destroying’ classical Renaissance perspective,” said Mike. “Within this framework there are smaller, equally dramatic narratives going on in which visual expectations and perspective are constantly usurped.”

Steven Trevillion’s “Found Subject” series reworks the idea of the found image/text that was so central to Schwitters’ collage practice. By literally tearing apart and reconfiguring a personal photo Steven also draws on Schwitters’ idea that destruction can feed creation.


Steven Trevillion