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Prism Arts Heritage Project wins Heritage Fund support

Kurt Schwitters, Merz Barn Wall, Hatton Gallery. Photo by Colin Davison

Prism Arts has received National Lottery Heritage Fund support for their project “Discovering Kurt Schwitters – Artist and Refugee”.

Thanks to National Lottery players, young adults with learning disabilities and autism, and pupils from Distington Community School will research the life and times of Kurt Schwitters, a prominent Modern German Artist.

Working in partnership with The Littoral Trust, Ambleside and the Lake District Holocaust Project, Windermere, the project will research Kurt Schwitters work, the events in Germany that forced him into exile and his life as a refugee in Ambleside during World War II.

Project participants, Prism Arts’ Studio Theatre West and Distington Community School Pupils aim to work alongside volunteers from Cumbria’s present refugee community. This work will be made possible with the help and support of Awaz Cumbria.

Catherine Coulthard, Chief Executive, Prism Arts said: “Prism Arts would like to thank the organisations taking part in our heritage project whose partnership and co-operation has made this project possible.”

Project participants will visit the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, The Merz Barn and Armit Museum in Ambleside as part of their research. The Project will conclude in a public exhibition at The Merz Barn and a new theatre production to be toured at The Beacon Museum, Rosehill Theatre and schools along the West Coast of Cumbria.

Angela Quirk, Head Teacher – Distington Community School said: “This project will help us to achieve our organisational objectives of educating and engaging with young members of our community and their parents and carers.”

Kurt Schwitters was at the cutting edge of German Art during the 1920-30’s, creating his unique “Merz” work in reaction to Germany’s economic and political instability after World War 1.

In 1933 Germany’s Nazi Party swept into power and Schwitters unconventional work was deemed as “degenerate” and “un-German” by the Nazis.

To escape persecution Schwitters took refuge in Norway then Scotland, suffering imprisonment and internment before finally moving to Ambleside, Cumbria where he lived until his death in 1948. Schwitters’ story still resonates strongly today.

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