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Chadwick, Helen (1953–96)

Artist. She was born in Croydon, and studied at Brighton Polytechnic and Chelsea School of Art, London. She received much attention in the press in the 1980s and early 1990s for her avant-garde work in the fields of photography, installation art and sculpture. Her exhibitions often provoked controversy for their use of unusual materials, including snow, meat, plants and chocolate. For her work The Oval Court Helen Chadwick used an ordinary photocopier to construct images made up of pictures of her own body. One of her best-known works, Piss Flowers (1992) was inspired by patterns made from urinating in snow. Other works include Viral Landscapes, a series of photographs incorporating magnified pictures of cells from her body, and Meat Abstracts (1989), comprising large photographs of meat interspersed with fabric and leather. Many of her works draw on the theme of the role of women in society, as she sought to bring a feminist interpretation to the traditional portrayal of the sexes. In 1986 her exhibition entitled Of Mutability, at the ICA in London, raised her profile among contemporary artists, and in 1987 she was nominated for the Turner Prize. Her last exhibition, entitled Stilled Lives, was shown at the Barbican Art Gallery in London and featured photographs of dead human embryos. Helen Chadwick died of a heart attack at the age of 42, just as her work was gaining recognition. Her obituaries mourned the premature loss of one of Britain’s most innovative visual artists.