EVERYONE is welcome to attend a weekend in celebration of migrants to Cumbria past and present, at the Merz Barn, Elterwater, on October 19 and 20.

Workshops, exhibitions, talks and a film screening are planned for the Lake District venue in a remote woodland, where German-born Kurt Schwitters created his last work.

One of the founders of the modern art movement, Schwitters fled the Nazis and ended his days living in Ambleside. He completed one wall of what he called the Merz Barn, at Cylinders Estate, Langdale, before his death in Kendal in January 1948.

Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC) and the Merz Barn are hoping people will come along for an afternoon of workshops and food on Saturday, October 19, with a bonfire and barbecue from 6pm.

The Sunday will see a 2.30pm screening of the film To the Four Winds, which portrays attempts to ease migrants' plight on the Italy and France border.

CDEC is a small, Cumbria-based charity that offers training in global citizenship to schools and organisations.

Its director, Laura Goad, said: "The workshop is an opportunity for everyone to connect with the themes of welcome, migration and belonging. We are encouraging all ages to come along to share experiences and gain new insights and experiences. We are also looking forward to showing To the Four Winds at Merz Barn on the Sunday and we’ll also be screening it in Kendal at the Brewery Arts Centre on October 23."

To sign up for any of the free events, go online at http://bit.ly/MerzBarnTotheFourWinds

The Merz Barn site was sold to charity Littoral Arts in 2006 by the Pierce family and has been restored and developed as an inspiration and education centre for artists, children and visitors.

The special weekend of October 19 and 20 will include tours of the site and four exhibitions on the Saturday afternoon, starting at 2pm: Children’s Art of the Holocaust; The Entartete Kunst and the Nazi declaration of war on modern art; Prism Arts at the Merz Barn; and Harry Pierce - Cylinders Estate Garden History micro-museum.

Later on Saturday afternoon workshops will feature children’s magic snake sticks, inspired by Schwitters’ habit of whiling away time turning sticks into snakes; and Snapshots from the Borders, which will explore why people are forced to migrate and recognise values we share.

Saturday night will conclude with a Reading of the Names ceremony, an annual event honouring the memory of the many artists who were declared "degenerate" by the Nazis, and the many other artists who died in the Holocaust or were forced to abandon their homes and flee into exile.

On the Sunday, as well as the film screening, there will be a debate about whether the Merz Barn site should be used as an international memorial to the many artists, architects and others driven into exile by the Nazis.

Littoral Arts director Ian Hunter said: “It is a two-fold proposition: should there be such a memorial and, if so, what should it look like?

"Some argue that as artists and architects have been the lead designers of all the other memorials in the world, so maybe this one should be very low key, invisible in a sense. This is the approach we have taken with the Merz Plaza memorial garden.

“There is no art work, statue or permanent signs there to tell you what it is. It only becomes a memorial if the artists of today are willing to come and choose to regard it, and use it as such.”

In July 2020 there will also be another series of major exhibitions and a two-day symposium at the site, which will include a public forum on the proposal for an artists' memorial project at the Merz Barn site.

It is hoped that whatever gains favour will be completed by 2022, in time to mark the 75th anniversary of Schwitters starting work on the barn.

The special migration-themed weekend at the Merz Barn is part of the No More Bricks in the Wall project, which is itself part of the larger Snapshots from the Border project, co-funded by the European Union.

As part of the project, a campaign has been launched for October 3 to become the European Day of Memory and Welcome. You can sign the petition to support the campaign by visiting bit.ly/SignDayofMemory

To find out more about CDEC, visit www.cdec.org.uk

For more on the Merz Barn, see https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com/