Drawing attention to disabilities: artist changing paintings to include hearing aids and wheelchairs

Report by Granada Reports Journalist Jennifer Buck

An artist has been drawing attention to people with disabilities by amending famous pictures held at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool.

Visually impaired artist Alistair Gentry is adding items such as hearing aids and wheelchairs to images by great masters such as Picasso and Matisse.

One of the first works of art he took his hand to was the famous self portrait "Painter and his pug", the new version now shows the artist William Hogath as blind and his pug as a guide dog.

"The Painter and his Pug" and the new version highlighting disabilities

In the painting "Two women holding flowers" Alistair changed the flowers into crutches. He says it gives out an important message "I'm having the cheek to come in and correct famous artists and in this case I am correcting them by putting the disabled people in  who are invisible in historical art and in contemporary art we just don't see many images of disabled people".

It's an intervention taking place in Art Galleries across the country to highlight the obvious absence of people with disabilities in art.

Gentry led the event at Tate Liverpool and says he is "righting a wrong".

He said: "I did a Matisse and I gave the woman in the painting a wheelchair so I am going to be going on to give the subjects hearing aids and if they look like they are in pain I am giving them medication because of course not all disabilities are visible, some people live with chronic pain so it's about that visibility for disabled artists and disabled people."

It's titled 25% Rectification as Gentry's intervention references the fact that nearly a quarter of people in the UK identify as disabled, neurodivergent or deaf, but we also don't see them as subjects of art a quarter of the time.

Dominic Beaumont from Tate Liverpool says "We want to make disabled artists more visible within the arts sector and for the general public who are coming to the gallery"

The plan isn't to scratch out the art that turns head in galleries, but for an artists impression to include all kinds of disabilities and differences