Introduction – Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange

10 months, 2 weeks ago Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange 0

Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange


“Dresden was a great pleasure for me, it has revived my desire to think of art. This beautiful place is a treasure trove beyond belief.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange is an artist-led initiative founded in 2012 by John Yeadon from Coventry and his Dresden counterpart Jean Kirsten. The exchange programme seeks to develop dialogue and communication between artists from the cities of Coventry and Dresden and to establish collaborative partnerships of exchanges, exhibitions, educational projects and forums.

From what was John Yeadon’s personal initiative the programme now opens up into a city-wide project. The programme will provide opportunities for artists and individuals, venues and organisations in both cities to participate. The focus is on the contemporary arts and on developing access to them through educational and other partnerships.

Coventry was the world’s first twin city when it formed a twinning relationship with Stalingrad (Volgograd) in 1944. Links with Dresden were set up in 1956 and Coventry was formally twinned in 1959 as a gesture of peace and reconciliation.

Dresden is regarded as the one of the most beautiful of German cities with unrivalled art collections; Dresden has been an important centre of art production for over three centuries. As an art and green city and birthplace of European porcelain, art and artistic manufacture here has been in the vanguard of European art and design and training through the Rococo, Romantic and Expressionistic periods up to the 1930s.

Within a Europe fractured by National Socialism and then sealed from scrutiny during the German Democratic Republic, Dresden as a major cultural centre has slipped from our view with a loss of dialogue despite unification.


Short History of Exchange

John Yeadon initially organised an exhibition, ‘For R Laban‘ by prominent Dresden artist Jean Kirsten at the Roots Gallery during Coventry Peace Festival 2012, with a reciprocal exhibition featuring ‘ENGLANDIA‘ by John Yeadon and ‘Tanzt!‘ by Jean Kirsten showing at the JohannStadthalle in Dresden in September 2013.

These pilot exhibitions have helped to make connections and establish the Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange. The Exchange received an Arts Council Grant for 2014/15 years programme, with a view to establish the Exchange into an unincorporated association, also forming a partnership with Dresden City Council and holding an exhibition ‘Works on Paper‘ at the Rathaus, (Dresden City Hall) 5 Dresden Artists and 5 Coventry Artists in June 2014. In March 2015 the ‘Dresden Exchange‘ exhibition saw 7 Dresden artists at the Lanchester Gallery, thus forming a partnership with Coventry University. This exhibition was the inaugural exhibition of the Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange and the vehicle to kick start the process of opening up and broadening the Exchange as a city wide project involving more Coventry artists and more Dresden artists.

In June 2016 over one thousand visited the exhibition of 7 Coventry artists and 7 Dresden artists at the Orangery at the Pillnitz Castle during Elbhangfest in Dresden.

An exhibition of banners ‘British Traces in Dresden’ created by the Elbhangfest and the Anglo German Association in Dresden were on display at St Michael’s House during the 2016 Coventry Peace Festival, Rainer Barczaitis of the Dresden Anglo German Association also gave a talk, ‘Dresden: A Love Story?‘ at St Michael’s House in Coventry.

In January 2017 two Coventry artists were invited as guests as exhibitors at the Kunstlermesse in Dresden.

More exhibitions and exchanges are in the planning for the next few years programme.



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