Artists show it can all be child's play

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IN WHAT is a rare opportunity to see the uncontroversial face of Damien Hirst, the creator of the pickled sheep is collaborating on work with his two-year-old son for a charity project, writes Mark Rowe.

Many of Britain's other leading contemporary artists are working with their children to produce pieces of art to be auctioned for the Save The Children charity.

While Hirst has impressed and outraged art-goers in equal numbers with his efforts - which include the dead shark in formaldehyde and a cow and its calf sliced in two lengthways - he is now working on one of his more conventional spot paintings with his son, Connor.

Other artists taking part in the project include Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North statue erected last week outside Gateshead, Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili, Rachel Howard, Sarah Staton, Simon Linke, Sam Taylor-Wood, Julian Opie and Magnus Hamick. More than 26 paintings, sculptures and plaster casts by artists and their children will be displayed in the shop windows of Selfridge's in London's Oxford Street next month before being exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in April. A private auction at the gallery takes place on 8 April.

"We think it's quite an appropriate project given that children are at the heart of everything we do. Charity auctions are a huge means of fundraising," said Judi Rudolf of Save The Children.

The scheme has been organised by sculptor Tessa Robins, who is working on a 3-D painting with her children Max, 3, and Maya, 2.

Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley has involved all three of his children in work for the show. His daughter Paloma, 10, has produced a plaster cast of a dog with a jacket and his 12-year-old son, Guy, has made a plaster cast of a scuttling monkey. Mr Gormley has also revived some paintings done by his oldest son, Ivo, now 15, when he was three years old. "In many ways they are better than my work. The children make things all the time and they have a lovely spontaneity," he said.