Emissaries of The Land: Conversations Between Kurt Schwitters, Derek Hyatt and John Ruskin

Emissaries of the Land is an exhibition of works by Kurt Schwitters (1887 – 1948) and Derek Hyatt (1931 – 2015), curated by Michael Richardson and first exhibited at Art Space Gallery, London in 2023. The ‘conversation’ between these two artists takes an unexpected twist, as it now comes to the former home of John Ruskin, who joins the meeting.

Schwitters occupies a secure place in the history of the early 20th Century avant garde. His collages created from discarded everyday scraps of life on the streets of Hanover in the inter-war years, his links to DADA and his own concept of Merz, placed him high on the Nazi list of so-called ‘degenerate’ art. His subsequent flight to safety through Norway and Britain, later enshrined him as a heroic refugee of an earlier era, somehow inexplicably marooned in the provincial backwaters of wartime Ambleside.

Schwitters’ later career took him into places where a predominantly urban-minded art world found – and still finds –it hard to follow. He went to nature. In Ambleside Schwitters created a series of exquisite abstract painted constructions which draw from the landscapes around him. It took a young Derek Hyatt to see this. As a student at the Royal College of Art he reviewed a Schwitters’ show ten years after the latter’s death. Hyatt drew the comparison between Schwitters and English landscape artist, Paul Nash. The Schwitters show was an inspiration for Hyatt, who went on to become a uniquely individual interpreter of landscape, in particular the north Yorkshire Moors.

The exhibition at Brantwood allows Hyatt and Schwitters to come together physically. The chemistry is powerful. Each makes the other more telling. Hyatt releases Schwitters from his historical straitjacket. The seldom seen works on show can be experienced in an entirely different context. Schwitters reveals the playful Hyatt as an artist of genuine strength, a sensitive, almost mystical, painter, above all a true master of colour. The exhibition takes place in the home of a third, well acknowledged, artist of landscape, John Ruskin. The sharp detail of Ruskin’s own work as an artist often veils its deeper sensitivity and thoughtful abstraction. With his two house guests alongside him, Ruskin thus connects directly with the generations who have taken him forward in radical ways, giving Hyatt and Schwitters fresh presence, and drawing from them a similar power.

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Event Information

Date & Time:13th November - 2nd March 2025

Brantwood is an independent registered charity - The Brantwood Trust Coniston Cumbria LA21 8AD enquiries@brantwood.org.uk Telephone: 015394 41396