Islington Mill Art Academy has recently returned from a week-long residency at the Cylinders Estate in Elterwater, Cumbria. The site is currently being restored and developed as a centre dedicated to the memory of the German Dada artist, Kurt Schwitters. Schwitters worked on the third and final of his Merzbau projects, the Merz Barn in the last year of his life (1947/1948) at Cylinders. The original barn still remains on the site, however one of the walls was taken to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle in 1965.
The group used the time to reflect on the development of the Art Academy, one year on from its formation, on how we have developed as artists during this time and how we can progress into the future. The residency was a valuable opportunity to spend time in a peaceful and inspiring landscape and to make work in a contrasting environment to the urban setting in which the group is based. The spirit and legacy of Kurt Schwitters is still very much present at Cylinders and many of us felt inspired to make work in response to this. Cylinders and the Merz Barn residency project is managed and developed by the Littoral Arts Trust.