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Light & Merzbarn I


There are some subjects which, from their nature, enable the artist to indulge in bursts of eloquence, or in flights of fancy. There are others, again, which, by their very character, are suggestive of those flashes of wit and humour which play, like the summer lightening, over the landscape of our thought. But my subject is not of these. It is neither poetic nor brilliant, and yet, I trust, it will prove neither uninteresting nor unprofitable.

But I give you fair warning that, in order to be so, it will make large demands upon your attention; and that if I make few appeals to your fancy or imagination, it is because the surroundings and the conclusions of my subject are too deep for the one, and too lofty for the other.

It is my hope and trust, however, that before the audience and the artist part company, we shall be satisfied (if not with each other, at least) with the fields of thought over which we have wandered, and with those fruits and flowers of contemplation and knowledge which we have gathered by the way.

Harry Matthews, 2018


THE MERZBARN in relation to LIGHT







Natura Artis Magistra.
Nature is the teacher of art

But grow in grace, and [in] Consciousness of the Christ within.
To that be glory both now and for ever.


I am grateful to Littoral Arts Trust, for inviting me to spend a few days at the Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn , May 2012; Pool Arts, for enabling the original MerzBarn visit, and organising MerzSHED II in Jan-March 2011, and to Richard Demarco CBE.

                                                                   Harry Matthews,  2017



The Kurt Schwitters Merzbarn/


If you can see the essence of a work of art -if you can, then it appears to you.
The Unity of the work, as a thing in-itself, which rests within itself,
and which does not differ in essence from the other things of nature or entities.

Kurt Schwitters, ‘Art & the Times’
Ray, no.1. 1926, (Bodleian library, Oxford).

My journey into the world of Kurt Schwitters began in February 2011, when I was commissioned to create a collage piece for MerzSHED II which would be part of Merzman 2011. It was when I lived in Manchester (2010-2014). Pages 13 and 14 of Joseph Perrin’s ‘The Manchester Handbook’ (1857) expressed some of my misgivings. Quaedam numquam mutant, OR whatever the old tag is.  In quite a few instances, experience taught me the hard way. Aut vincere aut mori

From the studio on the fourth floor of an old mill, I could see the Pennines.

Collage has been one method to piece things together. No easy business. He who climbs the Pipleian mount (of poetry) often finds the Muses drive him out with pitchforks.

The MerzSHED II project commission was a challenge. A way to raise oneself out of the morass with a pair of scissors and scraps of printed paper.

For the project I employed the nom du guerre ‘Hazman’. I am unsure as to how I came to this pseudonym; being a combination of my real name (Harry) and something sounding foreign. Hazman is coincidentally the Hebrew word for ‘time’. But for my purpose at that time in recuperatio, a sort of artistic crise d’identité, necessitated an assumed name, perhaps to establish distance between myself and the material, though this was in keeping with Merz, and the inspiration and example of Kurt Schwitters.

BBC Radio Programme about the Merzbarn: MERZMAN: THE ART OF KURT SCHWITTERS


…and by mid-January the project was underway:

Below: MerzSHED preparations, February 2011.

The panels were installed in that SHED Gallery. The result was an interior transformation.

Text & Images Ⓒ Harry Matthews 2017

opening night of MerzSHED II.

‘What Joseph Beuys conceived by his life and work: a gallery for the future’

Richard Demarco


Comments from Visitor Book:

“This show links the world of the gardener with that of the ARTIST. Joseph Beuys would have regarded it as an ideal Art gallery. We need more Shed Galleries to give us more for the future for Art. I feel inspired & blessed by this experiece. It proves that it is only a rumour that Kurt Schwitters is dead.”

R Demarco

“I like the way the artist drew on the wood and didn’t just stick it all down also the way the artist used a melted candle. I like the way the artist used cardboard and exposed recycled sign, also the contrast between the white and black cardboard. It’s unusual to see art in a tiny shed in Levenshulme! It’s Great!

S MacGregor (age 11), Stockport

“The dialogue was genius. Collage good. Fresh air chilly. Wine fine. Crisps great. A good event.”

E Meredith, Levenshulme

“The works of Hazman address very serious issues, with great beauty and sensitivity, and love of his fellows. It is full of complex images and words. Eddy Price, on the other hand, has simplified his ideas and images-they suggest colour and form.”

T Newman, Edinburgh

“A very immersive experience – I like the two buildings that house the artworks, a frame of a greenhouse and the small shed! The Shed part in particular is very multi-sensory-musical, with incense, textural artwork. I like that the artist was explaining different elements seen in his artworks to people in detail, and pointing out photos of Schwitters! Of all the events I’ve been to for MerzMan 2011, I think this is the one which enshrines Schwitter’s work and Merz, and for me the best. It has a lovely atmosphere; far different to most previews.”

N Bradbury, Ancoats

Interesting set-up. Liked the collage work and additional art work in the Shed. Made me think about what Art is, who its for and where it can take people. Food for thought. I liked the variety of materials within the collage. Whole visit interesting – will recommend it!

L Evans, Chorlton

I found the exhibition in the shed fascinating. Very unusual. I am not the arty type, but I liked this exhibition.

P Bogart, Salford

I feel I have learnt about an aspect of art-style which was not known to me before. I appreciated Harry’s help at interpretation. The venue is very relaxing and inspiring.

Pam Schwarz, West Didsbury

I enjoyed the relationship betwen the rural and an urban environment. Also the collage of allotments that ties into the collage of the art work by Hazman. Thank you for hospitality.

J Alman, Chorlton-on-Medlock

“A deeply personal work, exquisitely multi-layered, and I could stare at it for hours. I am reminded of Christ Pantokrator in the St. Catherine Monastery in Sinai, in mediaeval Armenian Church art, and in the Byzantine cento poetic form. This and so much more-I particularly respect the author’s deeply syncretic synthesis of religious and philosophical perspectives. It must have taken a lot out of the artist to have expressed all this in concrete form. An imaginative experience. I should love to come again.”

R Enmarch, Liverpool

“Blown away! Sunny Saturday choc-full of ART. Perfect setting. Challenging art, but finds its place in the context of pioneering visionaries, perfect people, and place for the work (I even got the Joseph Beuys influences-Roy did, I didn’t!). Love it! Congratulations to artists, mentors and facilitators. Keep it going: sheds all over the World (and beyond-Sheds in Space!)”

R & S, Moss Side


Merz Barn relief

The Hatton Gallery is home to the original Merz Barn relief. Constructed in a barn in the Lake District during 1947-48,

and transported to the Hatton in 1965, the Merz Barn was Kurt Schwitters’ final, piece of work.



The Light and The MerzBarn: My Residency research and photographs, from material gathered in May 2012 at the Schwitters Merbarn.

Text & Images Ⓒ Harry Matthews 2017

nescitis quia templum Dei estis et Spiritus Dei habitat in vobis 

1 Corinthians 3:16


I’m living just as the century ends.

A great leaf, that God and you and I

have covered with writing

turns now, overhead, in strange hands.

We feel the sweep of it like a wind.

We see the brightness of a new page

where everything can yet happen.

Unmoved by us, the fates take its measure

and look at one another, saying nothing.

Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours. (I, 8)





Harry Matthews

un poète et peintre

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