The Langdale Valley is most commonly associated with fell walking and a variety of other outdoor pursuits. This is surely not a surprise as this area of the Lake District has the perfect combination of dramatic crags and picture postcard scenery.
So when saying to people this area of the Lake District also has a strong connection with the arts, those who aren’t already aware may be a little bit surprised. Tucked away in a remote woodland in the heart of this valley is Merz barn. This barn was the studio and later the English and 4th Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters, a member of the Dada art movement of the early 20th century and who many people call the pop art pioneer.
The Elterwater Merz Barn remains in a state as it was when Schwitters left it in 1948 shortly before his death in January of that year. In 2006 it was purchased by Littoral Arts Trust with help of the Northern Rock Foundation. The preservation of such an important part of artistic heritage in one of the most beautiful locations in the UK is essential and fundraising is on going to restore Merz Barn along with the surrounding woodlands, part of the Cyclinders Estate.
Now the Merz Barn is bringing Kurt Schwitters admirers from all over the world to visit and the work of this artist is influencing the area in various forms. Hobson’s Bar at The Langdale Hotel has a Kurt Schwitters inspired interior and is well worth a visit to have a drink or dine in an environment so closely linked to Schwitters. So too the new Brimstone at Langdale Hotel which despite not having his prints exhibited, does echo the artistic style and colour notes he used.
The Merz barn at present is not open very often making it an even more exciting prospect to visit if possible. A great opportunity is coming up from September 11th to 26th where an exhibitions if being held at The Shippon Gallery at Merz Barn. Julie Scott is the artist and she creates college works influenced by Schwitters who was renowned for his college work. Julie Scott will be exhibiting more than 20 new pieces. The gallery will be open 10am – 5.30pm daily during the two week exhibition.
Accommodation can be found at both the Langdale and Brimstone Hotels which are right opposite the Cyclinders Estate where the Merz Barn is located.