Responses to Artdependence Article ‘Kurt Schwitters’ Final Merz Barn Under Threat’

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Responses to Artdependence Article ‘Kurt Schwitters’ Final Merz Barn Under Threat’

Following the publication of our article ‘Kurt Schwitters’ Final Merz Barn Under Threat’ we received some comments on the content contained within. We post these here for your consideration:

Responses to Artdependence Article ‘Kurt Schwitters’ Final Merz Barn Under Threat’

Following the publication of our article ‘Kurt Schwitters’ Final Merz Barn Under Threat’ we received some comments on the content contained within. We post these here for your consideration:

A response from Russell Mills

“The so-called Merz barn, and the parcel of land it is on, has no legal or recognised status as a site of cultural, architectural, historic or heritage importance. In the UK, many sites of historical, archaeological or cultural significance are owned, preserved and protected by, either the National Trust or English Heritage. Also a building or a site can also be given extra protection by being ‘Listed', meaning that it has been placed on the 'Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest’.

The status that the lean-to shed, a former store for hay, known as the Merz barn, has is one that has been given to it by the art world, as the site of Schwitters’ last, unfinished immersive sculptural relief, known as the Merzbau. It’s status is one that has been given to it; invented and inflated. 

To a degree the so-called Merz barn and the Cylinders estate are protected by two national organisations: it has National Trust covenants on the site, which forbids the erection of any new buildings or of any temporary structures i.e. tents and static caravans. These also forbid the use of the site for any other purpose other than agricultural uses. Littoral Arts Trust have ignored and breached all of these covenants.and, as it’s in the Lake District National Park. Also it is located in the Lake District National Park Authority, whose main remit is to, “protect, preserve and enhance" the Lake District. By being in a National Park should legally ensure that the site is given added extra protections to stop the kind of developments that Littoral have already made at the Cylinders estate, and should also oppose the future developments that Littoral (Hunter and Larner) still hope to impose on the estate. Littoral (Hunter and Larner) have persistently and flagrantly disregarded all of the existing protections on the estate, and the National Park policies.  

The integrity of the so-called Merz barn has been completely ruined by Littoral’s penny-pinching, botched repair work and inappropriate alterations, so much so that Schwitters would struggle to recognise it, The same is true of the Cylinders estate, much of which Littoral has bulldozed, unnecessarily removing  perfectly healthy trees that were probably growing in Schwitters’ time, to create car parking space. Schwitters and Harry Pierce would be horrified and appalled by the changes that Littoral have made, supposedly in the name of Schwitters.

A response from Littoral Arts Trust 

The central findings of the independent report about the future of the Merz Barn project state that:“The U.K. has an international moral responsibility to safeguard the future survival of Schwitters’ last Merzbau, the Elterwater Merz Barn, which is an acclaimed pioneering and experimental site for modern art and architecture”. 

This quote is by Professor John Holden, a leading UK Arts Policy consultant.  The report was accepted as independent by the Arts Council. They have confirmed this and also paid the balance of the funding awarded at the end of the consultancy study.

A couple of further corrections and clarifications in the context of the comments made by Mr Mill.

1. Representatives from the Merz Barn project's four main funders; Arts Council England, Northern Rock Foundation, LEADER+/RDPE, and Science Ltd/Damien Hirst have all visited the site and have signed off on their funding awards as having been full compliant with the conditions under which the awards were made.  The funders of the current emergency funding (2016) have also been kept fully up to date about progress with the works, as we have agreed with them, some of which are ongoing.

2. We have a letter on file from Sir Nicholas Serota stating that he is fully supportive of our work in looking after the Merz Barn site. It was also at our request that he and Tate Britain agreed to stage the Kurt Schwitters in Britain exhibition in 2013.  However, Sir Nicholas has now left the Tate and is Chairman of Arts Council England.

3. We continue to have cordial professional relations with the Sprengel Museum and the Kurt Schwitters Museum in Molde Norway, and the Armitt in Ambleside. And have recent correspondence with these institutions to support the statement.

Image above: Merz Barn, source

Telegram Channel

ArtDependence is now also available on the messaging platform Telegram. Telegram is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed.

Subscribing to the ArtDependence Channel allows you to easily stay up to date with the latest ArtDependence news.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Image of the Day

Otto Dix (1891-1969) 'Hugo Erfurth with Dog' 1926

Otto Dix (1891-1969) 'Hugo Erfurth with Dog' 1926

Search

About ArtDependence

ArtDependence Magazine is an international magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art, as well as modern and classical art.

ArtDependence features the latest art news, highlighting interviews with today’s most influential artists, galleries, curators, collectors, fair directors and individuals at the axis of the arts.

The magazine also covers series of articles and reviews on critical art events, new publications and other foremost happenings in the art world.

If you would like to submit events or editorial content to ArtDependence Magazine, please feel free to reach the magazine via the contact page.