The Merz barn building still stands much as Schwitters left it in 1948. Located in a remote woodland in the heart of the Langdale valley in Cumbria, NW England it serves as a symbolic connection and poignant memorial to the spirit and tenacity of the artist who worked there. This project is about the recovery, documentation and restoration of Kurt Schwitters' last Merzbau project; the Elterwater Merz Barn, and the international fundraising campaign that is intended to pay for vital restoration work and sustain the development of the project in the longer term.
During his lifetime Schwitters worked on four Merzbauten: the Hanover Merzbau (1923 - 36); two Merzbauten in Norway: the Haus am Bakken at Lysaker near Oslo (1937 - 40 ), and the Schwittershytta on the island of Hjertoya (1934 - 39); and finally the Elterwater Merz Barn in England (1947). Left unfinished after the artist died in early January 1948, the almost forgotten Merz Barn was neglected for many years until Richard Hamilton arranged for the surviving art work to be removed for safe keeping to the University of Newcastle's Hatton Gallery in 1965, where it is now on public view. The Merz Barn building itself still survives and contains evidence of Schwitters' original working methods and materials.
In 2006, with a major funding award from the Northern Rock Foundation, the LITTORAL Arts Trust was able to acquire the Merz Barn and to preserve it in acknowledgement of Kurt Schwitters' extraordinary artistic legacy and international reputation. The Trust is now working with a team of international art experts to undertake a complete documentation and restoration of the Merz Barn, including the management of the associated Cylinders estate and woodlands. To support these projects and the vital restoration work, an international fundraising campaign has been launched, and to date has raised an additional
The Merz Barn project and LITTORAL wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Northern Rock Foundation. Vital project development funding and other sponsorship support has also been provided by; Arts Council England NW, various artist donors (the Merzbarn Fundraising Campaign), and Science Ltd (Damien Hirst).
Copyright 2011 by LITTORAL. All rights reserved. LITTORAL is a non-profit arts trust which promotes new creative partnerships, critical art practices and cultural strategies in response to issues about social, environmental and economic change. LITTORAL 42, Lodge Mill Lane, Turn Village, Ramsbottom BL0 0RW, UK. Tel/Fax: +44 (0)1706 827 961 e-mail:Ian@littoral.org.uk.