Celebrating our partnership with Dortmund through beer and art

As you will probably know by now, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of twinning between Leeds and Dortmund. There’s been lots of exciting activities taking place over the last few months to celebrate the special occasion. And one project has seen the two cities team up to celebrate our joint passion for art, collaboration and brewing.

Both Dortmund and Leeds city councils have supported Leeds based arts organisation East Street Arts to commission an artist from each city to design a limited edition beer mat that celebrates Leeds and Dortmund’s special partnership.

The winning design from Dortmund features the work of Dortmund based artist Sabine Held who believes art is the adhesive we need for a resilient and meaningful partnership. And representing Leeds, artist Tony Tomlin’s design combines the Dortmund and Leeds city crests, the eagle and the owl.

You can find out more information about both artists and their designs below.

We’re also giving 5 people the chance to win a pair of 50th anniversary beer matts. Head over to our twitter page to find out more!


Sabine Held 

Sabine Held is an artist based in Dortmund and is part of the Dortmunder Gruppe, an arts collective who have been working with East Street Arts in Leeds since 2011.  

Commenting on her design Sabine said: “What connects the people of our two cities? What is the glue that holds the partnership together? Of course, such a partnership needs a suitable adhesive. It should create a resilient connection, so that the people of both cities stay in contact.

“For me, the passion for art is such a glue. And it has already proven itself. For years, it has ensured a connection between the two artists groups East Street Arts and the Dortmunder Gruppe, providing a wonderful opportunity to get to know artists from Leeds and to look at the world through their perspective.  

“The components of this unique adhesive are: curiosity, openness and interest. But Super-Art-Glue can do even more…Using the glue can help to widen your horizon, it can lead you to meet lots of nice people, and to see the world, through the contemplation of art, with different eyes.

“Of course you can also use other types of glue for further connections. Try Super-Music-Glue, Super-Sports-Glue, or Super-Having-a-drink-together-Glue.”

Below you can see some examples of Sabine’s other work Mixed Forest. 

Sabine uses the German saying ‘Er sieht den Wald vor lauter Bäumen nicht’ or Can’t see the wood for the trees’ in English. 

This saying means that you sometimes get lost in too many details and lose sight of ‘the whole thing’. Sabine starts with the question of whether it is possible for us to comprehend such a complex space as the forest. Can we dominate nature? Can we capture its complexity? 

In the series Mixed Forest Sabine works with the classic subject of the forest and transforms it into abstracted paintings. She doesn’t aim to reproduce the landscape, but the work begins in the forest itself, through pencil and charcoal sketches and colour studies. This on site documentation serves as starting points for the painting process back in the studio. 

Tony Tomlin

East Street Arts have been working with artist Tony Tomlin for over ten years. A well-known character in Leeds, Tomlin’s prolific output could be described as Outsider Art. Using felt tips, biros, cardboard, and poster paint, Tony creates drawings on paper and canvas creating interweaving surreal and real narratives.

His work is often autobiographical, frank and funny. Street scenes in Chapeltown, conversations, wordplay, socialism, religion, identity, and the role art plays in his life are all regular themes in his work. 

Tony loves art education and improving his technical skill set. East Street Arts supports Tony with sessions at Union 105 in Chapeltown and he has enrolled in art courses from entry level to higher education.

We are happy to introduce Tony’s beer mat- one of his ‘thumbnail’ drawings. Tony makes hundreds of these, reminiscent of comics or storyboards they capture ideas and create a small but vibrant window in to Tony Tomlin’s wonderful mind.

There is a film about Tony and his life in Chapeltown which there is a link to below. The story is told through the eyes of Tony’s friend, barber and first time film maker, Dave Peel.

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