Very Young British Artists

Twenty-five leading artists have taken on a special project: to collaborate with their kids, and donate the results to Save the Children. Rosanna de Lisle introduces an exclusive preview

FORGET POTATO-PRINTING. On rainy days, YBAs (Young British Artists) put their children to more challenging tasks. Craig Wood invites his two- year-old daughter, Tess, to paint his face, and then photographs her handiwork. Gary Hume gets his son, Joseph, 10, to trace the outline of his hand over his dad's onto a panel of aluminium, helps him colour in the shapes with household paint, and finish the picture by sticking 3-D eyes on to it. Gavin Turk may famously have cast himself in wax as Sid Vicious with a pistol, but at home he makes animal cartoons with his children. Gavin photographs animal characters from story books; Curtis, four, and Frances, two, paint them, and their father adds a bit of verse. Damien Hirst gave evidence in court against the gallery-goer who dyed his sheep-in-formaldehyde black, but he positively encourages his son, Connor, two, to mess up his spotless spot paintings.

Now, these very young British artists are having a show of their own: and, as befits their lineage, it's at the Saatchi Gallery. The sculptor Tessa Robins was asked by Save the Children to put together a group show which might raise money for the charity's art projects. She was delighted to help, but "the big question was: how do you get all those artists to donate works?" There had to be an enticing idea. The answer was close to home: "Most of the artists I keep up with are the ones with children - people like Sarah Staton and Bill Simon and Gavin Turk." So Robins commissioned Staton, Turk and 22 more parent-artists, including Richard Wentworth, Sam Taylor-Wood, Jane Harris, Jake Tilson, Magnus Hammick, Michael Craig- Martin and Anish Kapoor, to make something with their children. The resulting show, "Eye Was a Child", features 34 new, one-off pieces (Antony, Ivo, Guy and Paloma Gormley got carried away and produced five between them). They will be auctioned by Bonham's at the Saatchi on Thursday evening. If the grown-up artists fetch their usual prices, Save the Children stands to net as much as pounds 200,000.

The idea of collaborating with children proved so popular that Tessa Robins found herself taking calls from people she hadn't approached, asking if they could be in the show. Chris Ofili rang - but he doesn't have any children. So he borrowed Peter Doig's daughter, Simone. She drew some little figures, and Chris added added "psychedelic auras" around them. Then the rock stars started calling. Dave Stewart volunteered a tryptich he'd just made with Sam, 11, and Django, seven. And Paul Simonon, once of The Clash, offered a painting of Hungerford Bridge he'd done with Louis, six, and Claude, four.

The art in "Eye Was a Child" is fun, fresh, and essentially young. But Save the Children has a long history of nurturing children's art. In the 1920s, the charity's founder, Eglantyne Jebb, supported the art-education programmes run by Professor Franz Cizek for deprived children in Austria; she exhibited the children's work in Britain and America, raising pounds 2,300. These days, when the charity arrives in a devastated area, after sorting out food and water, aid workers usually get the children painting. It's communicative, cathartic and cheap; and a friendly way of introducing children who may have had no formal education to the world of the classroom. "Art is a powerful way for children to express how they see the world," says Corrine Woods, Save the Children's Head of Communications. "Which is what Save the Children tries to do: to see the world through children's eyes."

`Eye Was a Child': Saatchi Gallery, NW8 (0171 624 8299), Tuesday & Wednesday. Four of the exhibits are on display in the windows of Selfridges (corner of Oxford St & Orchard St, W1). The entire collection can be viewed at http://www.oneworld.org/scf/ewac. The auction at the Saatchi on Thursday evening is by invitation, but the sale is open to all. To make a bid, call Alison Payne at SCF on 0171 716 2163, before 5pm on Tuesday.

GARY HUME & JOSEPH

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON

Gary Hume was born in 1962. He was a nominee for the Turner Prize in 1996, and won the Jerwood Painting Prize last year. Joseph is 10 and would rather be a scientist than an artist when he grows up

DAMIEN HIRST & CONNOR

SAVE THE CHILDREN PAINTING

Damien Hirst famously pickles sharks and dissects cows. He also makes spot paintings, which hang in his restaurants. This one, customised by Connor, who could only reach the bottom right corner, is expected to fetch pounds 35,000. Damien was born in 1965. Connor is almost three. They live on a farm in Devon with Connor's mum, Maia, who surfs

RACHEL HOWARD & HOLLY & FELIX

FLUTTERBY

Rachel Howard was born in Durham in 1969. Her daughter, Holly, is three. They made these two canvases, each depicting half of a butterfly, with advice from Felix, who is nearly one

PETER DOIG & CELESTE & SIMONE

THE WITCH WHO CAST A SPELL ON THE POPPIES

Peter Doig was born in 1959. Celeste is six, and wants to be a farmer, vet or taxi driver. Her sister Simone is four and wants to be a fairy. She was `lent' to the childless Chris Ofili for the project CRAIG WOOD & TESS

WHEN DID YOU LAST PAINT YOUR FATHER?

Craig Wood was born in Edinburgh in 1960, and works in Wales. Tess is two, and enjoyed painting her dad. Craig took two self-portraits, which will be sold as a pair

JULIAN OPIE & ELENA

JULIAN AND ELENA

Julian Opie was born in London in 1958 and went to Goldsmiths'. His daughter, Elena, is four. This print shows how they see each other

ANTONY GORMLEY & IVO, GUY & PALOMA

QUITE A FEW SWIMMING BLOKES

Antony Gormley was born in 1950. He has just completed the Angel of the North, who looms over the A1 at Gateshead. Ivo is 15, Guy 12 and Paloma 10. With their father, they made five works for the auction. Quite a Few Swimming Blokes is by Antony and Guy. The Gormleys' pictures are expected to fetch pounds 5,000 each

ANDREA & PHILIPPE & FILA

CRASH

Andrea Mason and Philippe Bradshaw were both born in 1965. Andrea and Philippe have been working together for five years. Their daughter, Fila, is nearly two. Crash is a photograph taken from a moving car, on which Fila made her mark in crayon, paint and ink. The three have also contributed Ceci n'est pas une pipe, a paintbrush made with Fila's hair

ANISH KAPOOR & ALBA & ISHAN

UNTITLED (1998)

Anish Kapoor was born in Bombay in 1954. His one-man show opens at the Hayward at the end of this month. Alba is two and a half; Ishan is 14 months. For this project, they mounted three plaster bells on a plinth; then Anish and his daughters painted the insides of the bells

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