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"Great performers are those who can synthesise their social and sexual and political circumstances and get a great song out of it." — Paul McGuinness

Bono's Brush with New Art

Not content with being a rock star, an icon, and, some would have you believe, a saint for his work on Third World debt relief, Bono has now revealed another talent.

The U2 vocalist can paint too -- even if it is only for charity.

Not that it should come as a surprise as one of his closest friends, Guggi, is a well-known Irish artist.

But Bono is modest about his talent.

"I love art too much to call these anything other than marks on paper," he said.

His paintings, which are also illustrations for a book, and an accompanying CD should still make quite a lot of money for the Irish Hospice Foundation, which looked after his father who died of cancer two years ago.

The works by Bono and his two daughters Jordan, 14, and Eve, 12, on massive white canvasses with large black brush strokes, are designed to accompany a new interpretation of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf by another of Bono's chums, Gavin Friday.

The character of Peter in this children's favourite, is based on the young Bono while the singer's wife, Ali, an environmentalist who campaigns for children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, is caricatured as Pussy, an erotic cartoon cat.

"When I said I would immortalise her I'm not sure this is what she had in mind," he joked at a weekend appearance at Dublin City Hall for the first public display of his paintings.

The works are being exhibited at Christies in London this week and will be auctioned by Christies in New York on 20 and 21 November.

The Irish singer said he found the experience very cathartic.

"Beneath the jollity there is a serious side to this work, which is to do with my old man who gave me my voice and my interest in paint, but not the confidence to do anything with them as you can see."

While Bono is at pains to point out music remains his first love and he won't be giving up the day job -- at least not yet -- he says he's delighted to be of some assistance to the hospice after his own family's experience.

He describes the workers there as "angels who were so ready to look after my father in his losing fight with cancer."

As Bono himself sings in one of U2's songs: "Love is a higher temple, love, a higher law."

© BBC, 2003.