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Farron meets director of Tate Britain to discuss posthumous citizenship for Kurt Schwitters

March 25, 2013 12:35 PM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron this morning met with the Director of the Tate Britain, Dr Penelope Curtis, to discuss efforts to secure posthumous citizenship for the late Ambleside based artist Kurt Schwitters.South Lakes MP Tim Farron this morning met with the Director of the Tate Britain, Dr Penelope Curtis, to discuss efforts to secure posthumous citizenship for the late Ambleside based artist Kurt Schwitters.

Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism who invented the concept of Merz - 'the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials'. Whether those materials were string, cotton wool or a pram wheel, Schwitters considered them to be equal with paint. He is best known for his pioneering use of found objects and everyday materials in abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance. Schwitters's time in Britain was quite extraordinary and continues to reverberate today, with the influence he has exerted over artists such as Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and Damien Hirst.

In 1945 Schwitters relocated to the Lake District. Inspired by the rural Cumbrian landscape, he began to incorporate natural objects into his work, as shown in a group of small sculptures including Untitled (Opening Blossom) 1942-5 which he considered to be among his finest British pieces. The move also culminated in the creation of his last great sculpture and installation, the Merz Barn, a continuation of the Hanover Merzbau; an architectural construction considered to be one of the key lost works of European modernism.

Tim met with Dr Curtis as part of an ongoing campaign to get the Home Office to give Schwitters posthumous British Citizenship. Schwitters had been granted citizenship by the British Government on 7th January 1948 however in a tragic turn of events he died the following day in hospital in Kendal before he could attend the ceremony to formally make him a British citizen.

Tim, in conjunction with the Littoral Arts Trust and the Tate Britain, which is currently holding an exhibition of Schwitters's pioneering work, has been working to try and persuade the Government to grant Schwitter posthumous citizenship in order to honour his memory, but also to ensure the Britain can place his work and prevent it from leaving the UK.

Commenting after the meeting Tim said: "Kurt Schwitters was a remarkable and inspirational man, who battled oppression and came to the Lakes for sanctuary. The pioneering work he produced while living in the UK was of the highest level, and as a result if house in one of the best art galleries in the UK.

"However it seems incredibly unfair that the tragic timing of his death prevented him from ever becoming a British citizen, despite being told he would be. Just a simple move by the Home Office would result in a huge symbolic gesture to the memory of Schwitters and would help to enshrine his position as a Lake District artist."

Dr Penelope Curtis added: "I was pleased to meet Tim Farron today to confirm his interest in Schwitter's importance to England in general, and the north-west in particular, and to talk about securing the long-term future of the barn where he made his final 'Merz' piece."