The Merz Barn is a space that is being restored and maintained by a lovely couple Ian and Celia. It seems like they have taken this on as a bit of a vocation and use the space to encourage young and not so young artists, hosting yearly camps and other activities in a truly fantastic setting, and giving free rein to us to find our play, our unfettered creativity. The residency was held and organised by two amazing young artists Ellie Bullock and Sam Ford who had literally just graduated, some of their fellow students were also residents, their joie de vivre was delightful and inspiring. I felt as if I might be living in the presence of a few quite brilliant young artists and the combination of wonderful countryside and pure pleasure company was a potent tonic.
The Merz Barn belonged originally to Kurt Schwitters. He was considered a degenerate artist in Nazi Germany and had to flee to avoid persecution, first to Norway, and then to Britain where he eventually settled in Ambleside, Cumbria 'til he died. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Schwitters. The barn was something he worked on while he was living here. The wall that he made is housed in a museum and Celia and Ian are working hard to raise funds to keep the original buildings stable and to build a Schwitters' study centre.