Art and fashion join forces

Swarovski and Whitechapel Gallery’s cultural merger with heart

The annualfundraising Art Plus gala – hosted by east London’s hallowed Whitechapel Gallery, alongside masters of crystal Swarovski – encourages astimulating collision of disciplines. “It explores the dynamic fusion of thevisual arts with other media, such as drama, dance, film or music, culminatingin a party-cum-performance event,” explains Sophie McKinlay, artistic directorof the Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Plus Fashion event.

This year’sevent, held on Thursday March 14, will feature catwalk shows courtesy of four fashion postgraduates (cherry-picked by Nadja Swarovski, creative director of her family’s eponymous company) and established fashion luminaries such as Giles Deacon.Funds raised from the £150-a-ticket sales will support the gallery’s education programme, whichbenefits children and community groups.

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Also raising money at the event will be a live (and online) auction of works by high-profile artists, including Bridget Riley (One Small Step in first picture) and Cornelia Parker. Aparticularly striking creation being auctioned this year is Sam Durant’s map ofIreland (third picture), whose nursery-cute pastels belie its hard-hitting, political subject:tax evasion and money laundering. By contrast, Catherine Yass’s photo-etching (second picture) –based on a damaged film clip from a 1923 movie starring Harold Lloyd – seemsnostalgic and dreamlike. “The bite into the metal plate used for the etchingbecame analogous with scratches on the film,” says Yass.

Some artcelebrates the area around the gallery, making it mesh especially well with theevent. Armed with a camera, Zarina Bhimji snapped midnight-blue fabric from aBrick Lane store scattered with orchids, while the late Corinne Day focused on mannequin legsdisplaying tights in a shop window. That both of these artworks referencefashion, and that Day was herself a fashion photographer, is apt indeed – afitting intertwining of disciplines echoing the event’s blurring of artisticboundaries.

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