London Dada Work No. 975; Happy Days; remembering Kurt Schwitters


The guv’nor

Above; The Last Summer
Wasdale Cumbria, 1947

Today, 20th June, birthday of the legendary German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters.

Artist and founder of London Dada, Michael St.Mark, locates the spot, high above the lake of Wastwater Cumbria where, 70 summers ago, Schwitters along with his partner “Wantee” enjoyed a picnic together – possibly even a birthday picnic on 20th June 1947

Tragically – and a great loss to art – Schwitters was to die early the following year at the age of 60, leaving his life’s work, the Merz Barn in nearby Elterwater largely uncompleted.

UPDATE, July 6th 2017
Project Return Merz Wall
Artist Michael St.Mark calls for the return of Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Wall, languishing as if  stranded for over 50 years in the Hatton Gallery Newcastle, many miles away from its undeniably true home in Elterwater, Great Langdale Cumbria where its creator, the German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters undoubtably intended it to rest forever as an integral part of the Merz Barn which is still standing on the original site.

The return of the Merz Wall obviously requires accompanying adequate Arts Council or other funding in order to then preserve the Wall and secure the site of Merz Barn in Elterwater for the benefit of future generations of students and art lovers, who will be able to view this important and unique Dada work in its correct intended location and environment.

*Twitter hashtags  #ReturnMerzWall and #ReturnMerzBarnWall created today, please support this unarguably important and worthy cause by using either as a focus for an initial steering group and for invoking strategies towards its future realization.


*Points of note validating return of the Schwitters Merz Barn wall

1. Schwitters created the Merz Barn wall entirely from locally-sourced materials and found objects in the area around Ambleside and Great Langdale in the mid-1940s. It has no place as an unnatural severed object adrift inside a museum many miles from its intended permanent exhibition place. Unjustifiable in the technologically advanced 21st C. both morally and geographically – and also, in the final analysis, within art history.itself.

The Hatton Gallery was gifted the Wall in the 1960s by the then owner of the Cylinders Estate, Harry Pierce.

Equally, the directors of the gallery, in conjunction with the Arts Council, government and local authority, should recognize the strong nay overwhelming case, both morally and in the interest of art itself, for the Merz Barn Wall to be freely returned and re-incorporated into the Merz Barn – its intended and therefore real permanent exhibition place in Langdale, Cumbria.

2. The Merz Barn wall was Schwitters’ last great artistic endevour; he personally chose the precise location for its creation and having built it literally into the barn wall at Cyliners in Elterwater, obviously intended it to remain there as a permanent fixture going forward. Therefore one can be confident in stating it would have been Schwitters’  wish that it should remain and be appreciated as wholy integral to the Merz Barn itself. It’s something akin to The Large Glass by Marcel Duchamp having been split into two panes and each residing at different locations. Unthinkable that it wouldn’t nowadays be a priority for the art world that it reassembled as one, as intended by the artist.

3. The Wall’s removal in the 1960s took place under very different conditions and when Schwitters did not have the wide artistic acclaim and appreciation his legacy now enjoys.
Accordingly, it’s becoming ever more vitally important that the German Dadaist’s last great Work be reintroduced back into its original intended location, where there is now a sound support base and scope to fulfil its maximum appreciation in the form of the Littoral Trust.

4. There is more than adequate funding available within the Arts Council budget to make the return of he Wall eminently affordable and practical by utilizing modern engineering and security technology along with SOTA preservation techniques, whilst ensuring sensitive development of the Merz Barn site along present environmental protection lines remains undisrupted post installation.

Summary; If Schwitters had intended his Dada bas relief Merz Wall to be an independent standalone artwork, he would have surely created it on a large backing board base or framed metal mesh as its support within the Barn in the stead of building it directly into and as an integral part of the very structure of the Barn itself.
To continue to separate the two is to seriously compromise the meaning, feel and historical context of this most important international work of art.

There’s no place like home ” …

Merz Barn, 2010


UPDATE Summer 2018

Q & A interview with Michael St.Mark on the return of the Merz Wall from the Hatton gallery back to its artist-intended exhibition location at Elterwater, by the Kurt Schwitters UK newsletter editor and internationally-recognized KS authority Gwendolen Webster, that was published in the July 2018 issue.

PDF Here

1 thought on “London Dada Work No. 975; Happy Days; remembering Kurt Schwitters

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Kurt Schwitters – Dadaist in England | LONDON DADA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.