The Royal Opera Chorus. Photo credit: Daffyd Jones


LONDON - To say that the annual Whitechapel Gallery fundraising gala is glamorous is something of an understatement.

This year entitled Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Plus Opera, the whole space in East London was transformed into a spectacular 1920s ballroom. Period music was supplemented with performances of famous opera scenes inspired by art, staged by director Alessandro Talevi, accompanied by Renato Balsadonna, Royal Opera Chorus Director. I loved seeing the rendition by members of the Royal Opera Chorus of The Auction Scene from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Some tips for the future perhaps!

The list of artists featured in the auction was equally star-studded with works by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Martin Creed, Mona Hatoum, Gabriel Orozco and Simon Starling, alongside a ‘Blossom’ chandelier designed by Tord Boontje, donated by Swarovski who sponsored the evening. A lively bidding war broke out over two works by Gabriel Kuri and Janice Kerbel, and altogether £335,000 was made for the Whitechapel’s Education programme.

The final ingredient was of course the presence of all the big names of the art, fashion and music worlds – Iwona Blazwick OBE, Whitechapel Gallery Director, Art Plus Chair Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board, were joined by among many others Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Pam Hogg, Beth Orton, Rachel Whiteread, Ron Arad, David Batchelor, Bishi Bhattachary, Lara Bohinc, Andrew Grassie, Robert Holyhead, Alison Jackson, Langlands and Bell, Dan Lywood, Mourad Mazouz, Tim Noble, Laure Prouvost, Yinka Shonibare and Julie Verhoeven.