Piss on Pity

Piss on Pity:
Disabled artists vs. charity

An exhibition in a vacant unit in a shopping centre in Wakefield, curated by Gill Crawshaw.

It took place Wednesday 25 Sept – Saturday 5 Oct, 2019.
The launch event was on Wednesday 25 Sept, 2019, during Wakefield Art Walk.

Piss on Pity featured the following artists’ work.
Click on the titles of the artwork for more information about each:

Charity has long been a looming presence in the lives of disabled people – and not always a welcome one. This exhibition showed disabled artists challenging the widespread idea that charity is a force wholly for good. With humour, intelligence and confrontation, these artists reflect the demand for ‘Justice Not Charity’ that is the foundation of the disabled people’s movement. 

Disabled people called for ‘Rights Not Charity’ during anti-charity demonstrations in the 1980s and 1990s. The slogan ‘Piss on Pity’ expressed their anger at how charities portrayed disabled people as needy, tragic victims and at the charities’ claims to represent disabled people.

The demand for rights is more urgent now than ever. Disabled people are fighting a sustained attack on their lives and dignity under the government’s austerity programme, with cuts to public services and welfare benefits. A last resort for many, charities are inadequate in the face of this assault.

Piss On Pity coincided with the showing of Charity, a sculpture by Damien Hirst, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This exhibition took the opportunity to show how disabled artists have addressed this issue and continue to do so, as part of the disability rights movement.

In memory of Katherine Araniello.

Thanks to The Art House and NDACA, the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive.

The zine-catalogue for the exhibition is available on Issuu: https://issuu.com/gillcrawshaw/docs/piss_on_pity_exhibition_zine_sept_2019


  • Inside the exhibition, a woman reads the introductory text to her left (the text is out of shot). Before her on the wall, Sasha Callaghan's series of 6 digital collages, framed and in 3 rows of 2. To the right is one of Vince Laws' stencilled shrouds, the prominent message reading "RIGHTS NOT CHARITY".

    The artists and artworks

    October 14, 2019 by

    (Photo courtesy of Wakefield Art Walk). Piss on Pity featured the following artists’ work. Click on the titles of the artwork for more information about each: Katherine Araniello : Pity (2013) Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven: The Crippled Gherkin (2015) Sasha Callaghan: Digital collage series (2019) Eddy Hardy and Geof Armstrong: Liberty Not Charity (1996)… Read more

  • Front cover of Piss on Pity zine-catalogue. Photo of anti-Telethon disabled protestors in 1992, plus badge: WE DEMAND RIGHTS NOT CHARITY.

    Piss on Pity zine-catalogue

    October 14, 2019 by

    Rather than produce a catalogue for the exhibition, I produced a 20-page zine. The style seemed to fit with the aesthetic and subject of the exhibition. Last time I made a zine was in the 1980s! I used the same techniques and tools: photocopying and collage, scissors and Pritt-stick. It was fun.Of course, it doesn’t… Read more

  • 26 foot tall sculpture. A giant version of an old spastics Society collecting box, modelled in the shape of a girl with a calliper, holding a teddy bear and collecting tin. A crow bar at her feet has prized open a panel on her back. A few coins are strewn around. The sculpture stands alone, near the corner of a brightly lit white room with concrete floor.

    Researching Damien Hirst’s “Charity”

    November 7, 2019 by

    The installation of Damien Hirst’s huge sculpture Charity at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, as part of the Yorkshire Sculpture International festival over the summer of 2019, was a starting point for the Piss on Pity exhibition. Jason Wilsher-Mills convinced me that some action was needed, although at first I had no plans for an exhibition. I… Read more

  • A charity fundraiser talking to a man on the street. A bus passes behind them

    Chatting to a Chugger — Detrich’s Weblog

    October 17, 2019 by

    Clara stood on the corner in her bright yellow t proclaiming Whizzkidz. She wanted me to stop and talk. or did she? Maybe she just wanted to see the colour of my money. I asked her to walk with me. I was going to a cash point within 20 meters, just a few short strides. […]… Read more

  • Disabled people march in protest against ITV's Telethon in 1992. Many wear black T shirts with "Block Telethon Piss on Pity" in bold pink text.

    Block Telethon ’92

    October 14, 2019 by

    In 1992 hundreds of disabled people gathered outside London Weekend Television to protest against the Telethon fundraiser. This was one of a number of actions by disabled people against charity fundraising, including two protests in Leeds outside the BBC’s Children in Need in 1990 and 1992. Following Block Telethon, DAN, the disabled people’s direct action… Read more

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