The Merz Show: Hanover Project

To mark the 70th anniversary of Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Barn in Elterwater, the Hanover Project features the work of 4 artists who are inspired by Schwitters’ work.  I was surprised to read that the Hanover Project gets its name from Schwitters’ Merzbau in Hanover, which was destroyed by bombing during WWII:

kurt_schwitters_merzbau_1933
Merzbau Hanover 1933

All that remains of the art in the Elterwater Merz Barn is a wall installation that has been removed to the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle:

Kurt Schwitters merz-barn-artwork-in-situ

 

‘Merz’ was the first word on a found advertisement, and this typifies what Merz is about.  Embodying the spirit of Dada, Schwitters took the detritus of everyday-life – newspaper cuttings, sweet wrappers, bus tickets, found objects – and made them into something new and beautiful.  These are a couple of his Merz collages:

 

 

The Merz Barn projects were 3D architectural collages, involving entire rooms.

 

‘The Merz Show’ features works by four artists who have been inspired by Schwitters – a couple of whom have done residencies at the Elterwater Merz Barn. In Hanover Project style, the artworks are displayed without any indication of which artist made which work [very appropriately Dada-esque, but it’s been the same for each show I’ve seen so far].  You just have to guess.

I liked the central architectural piece, probably by Matthew Houlding.  It combines the idea of artistic living, the found object  (e.g.cake decoration trees under a food packaging roof) with new, bright perspex.  Colourful and lots to look at.

The rusty old frame didn’t seem to say much about Schwitters. That may be Rachel Pursglove. For me, Schwitters took the banal and discarded and reconfigured them into something new. This could have just been dragged in from the street. Perhaps I’m just not getting it.

The small blue prints, one set on an old handbag frame, were pretty.  All the essence of discarded receipts and everyday detritus (probably Samantha Donnelly). Do they go with the photocopied montage? Or do these go with the wood prints?  (the latter Tao Lashley-Burnley, I guess).  Indexical, negative images of found objects on (possibly) found wood. An interesting idea.

I wish there was more refinement in Fine Art – why have distracting dribbles on the sides of the boards, or lumpy lines of paint where the object has been removed? Perhaps that’s why I’m a ceramicist, where both the concept and the object matter. Refine, refine, refine – as Wendy says.

 

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