Derry artist Dawn Coulter Cruttenden’s new ‘Melba’ work to hang in world-famous hotel

'The Legend of Melba', by Dawn Coulter Cruttenden.
'The Legend of Melba', by Dawn Coulter Cruttenden.

A Derry-born artist’s work is to go on display at one of the world’s most famous hotels.

The luxury Savoy, on London’s Strand, will this month unveil the latest piece of art in its collection of contemporary artwork - a hand drawn triptych with gold leaf detailing by Derry’s very own Dawn Coulter Cruttenden.

Dawn Coulter Cruttenden.

Dawn Coulter Cruttenden.

The work will hang in The Savoy’s high-end patisserie, Melba.

‘The Legend of Melba’ tells the story of how Auguste Escoffier, the first head chef of The Savoy, created the Peach Melba dessert for Dame Nellie Melba.

While staying at The Savoy in the 1890s, the renowned Australian opera singer requested that Escoffier create a special menu for a dinner party that she was hosting.

Escoffier was determined the dinner was going to be one to remember and was particularly excited about an idea for dessert that he had come up with.

Nellie Melba returned from the Royal Opera House that evening, after her triumphant performance in ‘Lohengrin’, to join her party at their table in the River Restaurant.

Towards the end of the dinner, the light in the restaurant suddenly dimmed, creating a magical candlelight and the room fell silent as a magnificent ice sculpture of a swan, which had featured in the opera, was wheeled over to Mme Melba’s table by Escoffier himself.

It was, by all accounts, breathtaking. The swan carried a pyramid of plump glistening peaches resting on a bed of vanilla ice cream, with spun sugar spirals as its crowning glory.

Speaking about the inspiration behind her piece, Dawn Coulter Cruttenden says: “Nellie Melba was an opera singer. An actor. A diva! She loved costume and glitter and was known for wearing all of her diamonds and pearls together so that she could be seen twinkling from the back of the theatre.

“What I’ve strived to achieve is the vision of an amazing woman who powered through a time when women were frowned upon for being more than a beautiful accessory.

“The Savoy is a place to celebrate style, beauty and uniqueness - there is something around every corner of that building for everyone to fall in love with. It’s iconic.”

Dawn, who was born in Derry in 1972, is a past pupil of Foyle College.

She says her first exhibited pieces were studies of Cinderella’s ballgowns on the pavement outside her house!

On her website, she says she often “runs off” to a thatched cottage in Co. Donegal when she decides she needs “some peace, extra rain and clean air.”

Why not check out her website at

The Savoy, a Fairmont-managed five star hotel, is one of the most celebrated of London landmarks, proudly standing on the Northbank of the River Thames.

The ballet, opera and theatre of vibrant Covent Garden are just steps away; with the City, world-renowned museums and galleries, and the designer shopping of Knightsbridge and Mayfair within easy reach.

Fine dining has always been an integral part of The Savoy, since world-renowned chef Auguste Escoffier set an unprecedented standard in 1889.

The hotel’s 268 luxury rooms and suites celebrate The Savoy’s dual historical influences, featuring either elegant English Edwardian design or Art Deco style.

The Savoy hosts the legendary American Bar, the oldest surviving cocktail bar in London.

The Savoy also serves one of London’s finest traditional Afternoon Teas.