AN arts charity has decided to close a site devoted to the memory of one of the 20th century’s leading modern artists and put it up for sale.

Cylinders in Langdale in the Lake District is the site of the last work of German-born Kurt Schwitters who fled the Nazis and ended up living in Ambleside.

He had completed one wall of his Merz Barn installation before dying in January 1948.

Since 2007 Cylinders has been owned by Littoral Arts, originally based in Turn, a village in Rossendale, Lancashire.

The charity had the financial support of artist Damien Hirst, who sold a painting for £150,00 to raise funds, Northern Rock Foundation and the Arts Council.

However, since 2012, the Arts Council has withdrawn support, turning down the last nine grant bids from Littoral.

Merz Barn director Ian Hunter, aged 75, and the chair of Littoral Celia Larner, aged 85, have had to sell their own property and use their pensions to keep the project going.

Mr Hunter said: “Celia and I having thought about it very carefully have decided that the only course left open to us as an Arts Trust is to close the Merz Barn site down permanently at the end of November, and to put the property up for sale early in the New Year.”

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: "This is really sad news. Celia and Ian's dedication to this project has been hugely impressive.

“I really hope that whoever takes over the running of Mertz Barn promotes the legacy of Kurt Schwitters’ art."

The last public event at the Cylinders will be on Saturday, October 8, with the annual Entartete Kunst (anti-fascist) artists’ memorial evening, commemorating the artists, writers, architects, musicians, etc., who were persecuted by the Nazis and forced into exile.

The site will go on sale in March. The couple was last offered £375,000 for the site in 2018 by a Chinese collector who wanted to move the Barn to his own country.

The original artwork was moved to Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, in 1964 by British artist Richard Hamilton.

Mr Hunter added: “Provided the Trust can achieve the sale of the property for a reasonable price, it will decide on the best use of the money received from the sale.”