Observations: Come to the butterfly ball

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The Independent Culture

What do Kate Winslet, Ricky Gervais and Tony Blair have in common? Aside from a propensity for making embarrassing speeches, that is. The answer, unexpectedly, lies with butterflies.

They are among 80 artists, designers, writers and politicians who have contributed to The Butterfly Book, a charity art book in aid of Leukaemia Research.

Winslet drew a "butterfly person", inspired by her daughter Mia, while Gervais, drawing on his Flanimals cartoons, provided a bigger, hairier version. Blair sent in a silk butterfly plucked from a display at an official dinner. Among the artists, Grayson Perry has dreamed up a typically outrageous killer insect with swastikas on its wings and nipple piercings (yes, his butterflies have nipples) while Cornelia Parker created a Rorschach blot of a butterfly using snake venom for ink. Other contributors, from a wide field, include Gavin Turk, Manolo Blahnik, Ewan McGregor, Maggi Hambling, Matthew Williamson, Alan Ayckbourn, and Quentin Blake.

Alongside the £25 hardback book there are also 70 limited-edition books for sale which come with one of the original artworks inside, costing £100. The artworks are pre-sealed and there is no way of choosing: like the popular Royal Academy postcard exhibition, it's a case of lucky dip, meaning you could end up with a £100 Peter Blake bargain or, less luckily, a doodle from Ann Widdecombe.

Among the non-visual contributions, Lembit Opik has written a verse comparing the flight of the butterfly to the unpredictability of life, Jeffrey Archer sent in an ode written by somebody else (plus ça change) and Jeanette Winterson summed up the transient appeal of the most beautiful – and rapidly disappearing – of insects with a poem: "I love them because they are so brief and so beautiful. A line of poetry. A run of colour. A bar of music. Gone."