Elterwater, barn without wall 1965 - 2008

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Schwitters: ’the new Merz construction will later stand close to nature, in the midst of a national park, and afford a wonderful view in all directions’




In 1965 the wall was removed from the Merzbarn on the Cylinder Estate. The owner of the Estate, Harry Pierce, died a year later, and this beautiful place in Elterwater, including its woodlands, landscaped gardens and the empty barn, reverted back to nature.

During our visits in 1992 en 1999 we saw closed gates and could detect no activity whatsoever on the premises. In recent times the estate, including the barn was purchased by a non-profit art trust, called ‘Littoral’. Although the trust focuses on art-related agricultural projects, the Schwitters story dovetailed with their vision and Littoral took on the barn and its heritage.
Their project is still in its very early stages but ideas are being explored as to how best to preserve the barn and the site as well as fulfilling Schwitters’ wish that it should become a resource for contemporary artists and students as much as a memorial to himself.

Littoral began by making the whole area accessible and an annex was converted to host all sorts of activities. A life-size photograph of the wall has been hung in the barn itself. A few symbolic decor pieces strategically placed demonstrate what the wall was like originally and what Schwitters’ intentions were. This exhibition is to be further developed and improved.
Recently Littoral has launched a website, "http://www.merzbarn.net".

In 2008 we visited the site and were excited to be able to see the barn for the first time. We met Ian Hunter and Celia Larner of Littoral who were exceedingly helpful to us for the duration of our research by providing information and contacts.

1. Merzbarn, Elterwater, 2008
2. Id.
3. Merzbarn, Elterwater, 1965
4. Merzbarn, Elterwater, Interior,2008
5. Visitors centre, Elterwater, 2008