on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 19 Sep

Gems I found in the Lake District

von: Lajla Nizinski Filed under: Blog | TB | Tags: , 11 Comments

Another reason to come to the Island – beside visiting The Beatles in Liverpool – is my deepening admiration for Kurt Schwitters. I cannot count how often I introduced his art to my students.

I traveled to Ambleside, where Schwitters lived a couple of years before he died in 1948. Right now I am sitting in Daisy’s Café, where he used to come to look at the little market across the street, peering for people who he could portray to earn some money with. In this time Schwitters was very poor and already sick. But with still his young love ‚Wanatee‘ on his side happy.

In the little Museum Armitt in Ambleside they show some of his oilpaintings, some collages and pieces from the Merzbarn.

Asbestos Tile


Where he lived, he hadn’t much space to produce art. He painted on small pieces he cut off from lino or wood. It was a glorious day for him, when Wanatee found a barn for him, outside of Ambleside. Immediately he started with his 3rd MERZBAU. I went there and found myself in a dark room, where a candle was lit. I saw the painted stonestructures, which appeared to me as precious jewels, which reflect the colours of the landscape in the Lake District. I always wanted to visit his MERZBARN and now I was here. Deeply touched.

Outside the Merzbarn


Inside the Merzbarn


Afterwards I went back to the library of the Armitt Museum. There I discovered a collage on the wall, dedicated to Kurt. Signed by Russell Mills. I asked in the local bookstore, who is Russell. The bookseller said: „What a man he is!“ and gave me two addresses. RUSSELL MILLS was not in town. I googled and „doors of perception“ were opened. Russell is a great artist, longlife friend to Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. With David Sylvian he created „Ember Glance“. In his studio in Ambleside he produces covers for musicians and books. He works on mixed media pieces using light and sound.

Schwitters influenced him a large part in his art. “ … Schwitters believed that, following the mindless carnage of the Great War, and the subsequent shattering of the certainties of the old world order, all that remained was fragments, so that was what he could work with. These ideas, along with those culled from close observation of the natural world, have shaped my thinking enormously. These ideas also suggest a worrying parallel between the dangerous folly of those days and the present fragility of the world with the uncertainty of Trump and Brexit looming over us.“

Russell Mills in his studio in Ambleside


There is no wealth but life  John Ruskin
Here in this house in Grasmere the ‚three opium brothers‘, as I call them, were pondering: „I took it – and in an hour, oh! Heavens! What a revulsion! What an upheaving  from its lowest depths, of the inner spirit! What an apocalypse of the world within me …

Yeah, you read this book: „Confessions of an opium eater“. Thomas De Quincey(1785-1859). He had a deepening admiration for  Samuel Taylor Coleridge  (1772-1834). To him Coleridge was the greatest man that has ever appeared. But Coleridge thought of himself that he would not be a gifted poet. He thought of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), that he was the one and only one …

The Dove Cottage


In this house, it belonged to Wordsworth, a lot of the most beautiful poems and ballads were written (1. from Coleridge, 2. from Wordsworth).

What is life?


Resembles life what once was held of light,

Too ample in itself for human sight?

An absolute self? an element ungrounded?

All, that we see, all colours of all shade by encroach of darkness made?

Is very life by consciousness unbounded?

And all the thoughts, pains, joys of mortal breath

A war-embrace of wrestling life and death?




At the corner of Wood-Street, when daylight appears

There’s a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:

Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard

In the silence of morning the song of the bird.

‚Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees

A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;

Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,

And a river flows on through the Vale of Cheapside.

Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,

Down which she so often has tripp’d with her pail;

And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove’s,

The one only Dwelling on earth that she lived.

She looks, and her Heart is in Heaven: – but they fade,

The mist and the river, the hill and the shade;

The stream will not flow, and the Hill will not rise,

And the colours have all pass’d from her eyes.


I must admit that I enjoyed the local pub ‚Unicorn‘ very much. I spent there great nights with Sue from St. VINCENT – we have now a reader on that Carribean Island … :)

In the pub they played great live music. I especially liked songs from

Pete Morton: Another train

Allan Taylor: The Traveller

Chris Miller: Jamming

Bob Dylan: North Country Blues


Let me finish with a final quote from John Ruskin, whose home I visited also in the Lake District:
we did not travel for adventures, nor for company, but to see with our eyes and to measure with our hearts.

Brantwood, home of John Ruskin


This entry was posted on Mittwoch, 19. September 2018 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    You can hear samples of Kurt on KURT‘S REJOINDER, on Eno‘s album BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE.

  2. Jochen:

    How lucky you are, Lajla. This lovely dove cottage …

    Russell Mills designed the package of Gone to Earth by David Sylvian (Ian mentioned the album in his last posting). I guess Mills did the cover painting. One of my most heard albums ever, soundtrack of the late Eightees. A „lifer“ :)

    There are two mysterious voice samples on Gone to Earth: one by Joseph Beuys and the other one by John G. Bennett, who was a friend of Gurdjeff. I was curious and once took his book from the library, called Hazard. It was about the benefits of taking risks.

    PS. One man´s Eno is another man´s Sylvian, haha.

  3. Lajla:

    Michael, danke. Hast du Russell mal auf dem Punktfestival kennengelernt? Kennst du den Film, den er über Jan Bang gemacht hat?

    Ja, Jochen, er hat das Cover gemacht und wie ich sehe, dem Schwitters Werk „Wood to Wood“ die Linie entlehnt.

    One woman likes both :)

  4. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Herrn Mills sah ich, aber nicht seinen Film.

    You get a sense of landscape here.

    Funny enough, and nearly coincidentally, poems and song lyrics emerge on this summer day, and though Paul Weller‘s „Bowie“ may be a kind of meditation on life‘s cycles, all his songs from the fine new album TRUE MEANINGS reflect a pastoral feel of landscape in another part of England. Really lovely songs. Heartwarming all the way.

  5. R ! chard B ! sson:

    bravo, Lajla, you’ve just completely inspired me

  6. Lajla Nizinski:

    Thank you Richard. For your long Canadian winter I suggest to read the long ballads of Wordsworth. He admired Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Leibniz. And went quite often to Germany. You can discover that influence in his lyrical ballads.

  7. Uli Koch:

    Nicht zuletzt möchte ich auf die beiden Alben von Russell Mills hinweisen: UNDARK von 1996 und PEARL & UMBRA von 1999, die mit einer großen Zahl illustrer Gäste von den Gebrüdern Eno über Robin Guthrie, Bill Laswell, David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel, Thurston Moore, den Gebrüdern Aguilar aus Lanzarote, Hector Zazou und vielen anderen wunderbar intime und zwischen ambient und verstörend leise Musik beinhalten, die ich seit Jahren immer wieder höre, ohne sie wirklich zu fassen zu bekommen.

    Ganz im Gegnteil: desto öfters ich sie höre, desto mehr frage ich mich, ob ich das denn überhaupt schon mal gehört habe und habe trotzdem das „Hase-und-Igel-Gefühl“: diese Musik ist längst da, bevor ich bei ihr ankomme … Kleinodien.

  8. Lajla:

    Uli, this might be new for you: STILL MOVES, a production of electro-acoustic soundworks, an ongoing series of limited edition hardback books charting every installation and each carrying two CDs.

  9. Uli Koch:

    Thank you Lajla! That’s great stuff. Wonderful ambient sounds and you are right: i didn’t recognize these records before & am a bit sad because they’re all sold out. I really like the subtle beauty of Russell’s art and material procession.

  10. Brian Whistler:

    Really enjoyed this piece of writing, a travelogue of photos, ideas, art and place. What more could you ask for?

  11. Lajla:

    Happy trails for you too, Brian.

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