Royal West of England Academy Opens Damien Hirst: Charity

The Royal West of England Academy presents Damien Hirst: Charity, an exhibition on view 6 June 2011 – end May 2012.

For twelve months, Charity – Damien Hirst’s twenty-two foot high painted bronze statue – will stand on the RWA’s balcony as a monumental and epic comment on social injustice.

The Spastics Society collection box of a girl with teddy bear and leg in callipers was a familiar site in the 1960s and ‘70s, but fell out of fashion in the 1980s as a disempowering image of pity. Hirst has remade the splinted girl, scuffed her appearance and burgled her charity box to highlight the erosion of society’s values and put the issues on a pedestal.

Looking across at the Victoria Rooms’ regal statue of Edward VII, Charity subverts the celebration of nobility and the monarchs who began the age of charity, its towering wretchedness standing as a massive reproach, the scale of our refusal to acknowledge a failure in charity.

Charity was originally installed outside London’s famous White Cube gallery as part of Damien Hirst’s 2003 exhibition Romance in the Age of Uncertainty.

Image: Damien Hirst, Charity 2002-2003, Acrylic paint on bronze, 270 x 96 in (6858 x 2438.4 mm), photographed by Mike Parsons (C) Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2011.

The Royal West of England Academy (RWA) is one of only five Royal Academies of Art in the UK. It is a registered charity which has been self-supporting for over 150 years and possesses an outstanding Grade II* listed building, galleries and permanent fine art collection. The RWA has HM Queen Elizabeth II as its patron.

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