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Helen Chadwick (1953 – March 15, 1996) was a Britishmarker conceptual artist.

Early years

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


She has often been identified as a feminist, with several of her works addressing the role and image of woman in society.

Her work often reflected her sometimes uneasy relationship with her own 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 cell 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 not 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, 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.

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

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.


  1. Fineart profile


  • Helen Chadwick, Mary Horlock (contributor), Eva Martischnig (contributor), Mark Sladen (editor) Helen Chadwick, Hatje Cantz Publishers (July 2004) ISBN 377571393-X
  • N.P. James (Editor) Helen Chadwick CV Publications (September 1, 2005) ISBN 190472745-X
  • Helen Chadwick Enfleshings Aperture Book (November 1989) ISBN 089381394-X
  • Helen Chadwick Stilled Lives Portfolio Gallery (December 31, 1995) ISBN 0952060833
  • Of Mutability: Helen Chadwick (exhibition catalogue, London, ICA, 1986)
  • Effluvia: Helen Chadwick (exhibition catalogue, essay M. Allthorpe-Guyton, London, Serpentine Gal., 1994)
  • Rideal, Liz, Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by women artists 2001 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12 September 2001 – 20 January 2002), p. 101
  • Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self Portrait 2005, p. 17
  • Rachel Jones, "Helen Chadwick and the Logic of Dissimulation", in: Margret Grebowicz (ed.) Gender after Lyotard. NY: Suny, 2007.

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