ENB raises £40,000 in celebrity art auction
English National Ballet chose one of the better days of this summer to hold its fundraising party at The Orangery in Kensington Palace. Sponsored by Swarovski, this event was also an opportunity to buy works of art, created by a range of celebrities, on the theme of Swan Lake to commemorate the company’s performances of this ballet at the London Coliseum, which are about to begin (from 3rd to 11th August).
A mixed audience of ENB supporters, celebrities from the worlds of film, TV, music, fashion and – of course – dance attended the event, which was opened by HRH The Duke of York and hosted by Nadja Swarovski.
There were lots of interesting people to chat to over a glass of pink champagne (or three) on a very pleasant summer evening, albeit that the aftermath of the rains left many people, mostly ladies, with the problem of high heels sinking into the lawns of Kensington Palace. I found myself chatting to the former pop singer, now TV personality, Lauren Laverne, who was especially excited by the early 20th century graffiti on the Palace walls (we suspected that this may have been evidence of a below-stairs Edwardian romance?): La Laverne pulled out her iPhone to record the evidence, perhaps for a later edition of The Culture Show! Even this rare encounter was eclipsed by actually bumping into a man that I knew for years as Sharpe, and later as Boromir in The Lord of The Rings. Fashionably stubbled with a floppy mane of brown hair covering a tanned and instantly recognisable face (that’s him, not me, just in case there is any doubt), I think that he may have mistaken me for a waiter – an easy mistake to make – and all I could do was mutely point him in the direction of an actual waiter bearing a tray of champagne glasses. Annoyingly, when I eventually returned home, all my wife and daughter were interested in about the whole event was this 3-second encounter with Sean Bean.
Enough of such frivolities! The point of this “do” was to make some money for English National Ballet and to achieve this – as well as tickets being sold – the Swan Lake-themed art auction was brilliantly supervised by the aforementioned Miss Laverne. She was so good at the auctioneering lark that a man standing next to me actually outbid himself three times to buy a superb large oil painting of the Swan Lake corps de ballet by up-and-coming artist, Tom Campbell. When I said that I had never seen anyone outbid themselves before, the winner replied that the painting was easily worth twice what he had paid and he would have been embarrassed to buy it for the original amount. He was almost certainly right about getting a bargain. I would have bid myself but I could see problems in getting a 6’ x 6’ painting home on the bus.
In addition to the art donated by genuine artists (Ronnie Wood, Sam Taylor-Wood etc), there were swan paintings and collages of every kind donated by celebrities (I particularly loved the swan hat created by the admirably impressive Immodesty Blaize – you couldn’t have a name like that and be dull) and dancers, including Daria Klimentová – ably helped by her daughter – and the ENB’s next Director, Tamara Rojo. I won’t embarrass either by letting slip which painting raised the most, suffice to say that the whole gallery raised over £40,000, which should buy a pointe shoe or two.
There was some dance but not as expected and, frankly, not easily viewable. On a tiny stage, Elena Glurdjidze managed an adorable interpretation of the Dying Swan and Max Westwell and Jia Zhang performed two duets, including a truncated version of the White Swan pas de deux. It is perhaps the only time these dancers will have to fight their way – and their tutus’ way – through the audience in order to get to perform. Among many dancers present in the audience were Ivan Putrov, fresh back from New York where it seems that future projects may be basing him, and Zdenek Konvalina, clearly enjoying the fact that he didn’t have to perform on that tiny stage.
A very enjoyable evening, for which huge thanks to Swarovski and other sponsors and donors, which provided a particularly pleasant way for people to show their support of ENB in such lovely surroundings. It seems set to become an annual event.