Damien Hirst's 'Charity' at the RWA Bristol

Date 11.06.11 – 30.05.12

Time Free daily

Location Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX


From June 2011 to May 2012 The Royal West of England Academy is hosting Damien Hirst's work 'Charity' a monumental sculpture based on 1970's Spastic Society collection box. Standing at over twenty two foot the work is on view to the public, located on the RWA's grand front balcony.


Not since the infamous Bristol graffiti exhibition Crimes of Passion in 2009 and the major architectural dome extension of 1914 has the RWA had such an eye-turning addition to the front of the building. 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. The RWA is thrilled to host this landmark, by one of the world’s most important, successful and prolific artists.