Helen Chadwick

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Helen Chadwick : biography

19 May 1953 – 19 March 1996

Helen Chadwick (18 May 1953 – 15 March 1996)Buck, Louisa, , The Independent, 18 March 1996. Retrieved 14 August 2010. was a British conceptual artist.

Life and work

Chadwick studied at Croydon College of Art, The Faculty of Arts and Architecture Brighton Polytechnic and then at the Chelsea School of Art.

Beck Road, Hackney, where Helen Chadwick lived.

She lived in Beck Road, Hackney,http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/what-a-swell-party-it-was-1335102.html where one of her first London friends was another resident of the street, Maureen Paley.Beckett, Andy. , The Independent on Sunday, 2 June 1996. Retrieved 14 August 2010. Paley and other friends took part in Chadwick’s first London show, a feminist performance titled In the Kitchen, by strapping themselves in a canvas model of a cooker. Chadwick guided Paley in the conversion of her home into a space for art exhibitions. Paley said, "Helen was always talking about craftsmanship—a constant fount of information".

She has often been identified as a feminist, with several of her works addressing the role and image of woman in society, especially in her postgraduate days and alongside her colleague and friend Elaine Shemilt.

Her work often reflected her sometimes uneasy relationship with her own body and her partners body, using organic materials, such as meat, flowers and chocolate. She is perhaps most famous for Piss Flowers (1991–92), bronze sculptures cast from cavities made when urinating in the snow by both Helen Chadwick and her husband David Notarius.

Earlier works include Viral Landscapes, a series of photographs from the late 1980s where blotches (actually magnified images of cells from her body) are superimposed over landscapes, and Meat Abstracts (1989) large photographs of meat juxtaposed with leather and fabric.

Right from early art school, I wanted to use the body to create a sense of inner relationships with the audience.

To look at her work in the context of art history it is interesting to see the differences between her approach to her own body and the way the female figure was used in the past.

"In Ego Geometria Sum: The laborers X" of 1984, she is attempting to use her body in a decorative or seductive way, attempting to lift a large box covered with a picture of her own body, she is literally struggling under the weight of her own image and self importance, which was something perhaps doubly applicable to her as both a woman and an artist in the public eye.

While in her earlier work she questioned the role of the female body in art as a decorative object, just as decorative and aesthetic ideas about art themselves had been questioned in the 20th century, in the late 80s she changed saying, "I made a conscience decision in 1988 not to represent my body. It immediately declares female gender and I wanted to be more deft."

Chadwick thereby abandoned this practice to become more visceral and moved inside the body to human flesh, and what is common to all of us but we avoid thinking about. However, she did not abandon the themes of sexual identity and gender identity. Her Cibachrome transparencies of 1990 entitled "Eroticism" depict two brains side by side.

In 1995, Chadwick took up an artist residency in the assisted conception unit at Kings College Hospital, London, photographing IVF embryos rejected for implantation.http://www.doyma.es/revistas/ctl_servlet?_f=7264&articuloid=13171659&revistaid=600 ‘Body Matters’ by Colin Martin. The Lancet Vol.363 Núm. 9423. Retrieved 24 April 2011. She used the photos in Unnatural Selection, a series on which she was working when she died.

Ten of her works, including Cyclops Cameo and Opal, were destroyed in the May 2004 fire at the Momart warehouse in London.

Chadwick was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1987.

She died in 1996 from a viral infection that weakens heart muscle preventing it from pumping. The virus was contracted while working in a hospital .