Helen CHADWICK British, 1953-1996

Helen Chadwick was a sculptor, photographer and installation artist and, in 1987,  the first woman to be nominated for the Turner Prize. 


In her work she wrestles with complex ideas stemming from mythology, science, learned behaviour and stereotypical perceptions. Her use of controversial and highly unconventional materials confront the viewer with characteristic directness.


Oppositions are characteristics of her photography, in particular, the seductive and repulsive, male and female, organic and man-made. The images occasionally look decorative but closer inspection reveals a more ambiguous and disquieting statement.


The Victoria and Albert Museum spotted her talent early and later, in 1990, this former punk was appointed to the visual arts advisory panel at Arts Council England. When, in 1994, the Serpentine Gallery gave her a solo exhibition she took over and filled the space with photographs, sculptures including 'Cacao', a fountain of chocolate. The exhibition drew many visitors, people returned, journalists wrote, galleries came knocking and the pressure on her and her time grew.  In what were to be the final months of her life she barely stopped - in fact, she barely stopped during most of her working life.  In demand and planning more shows, she died suddenly at the age of 43.