(18 May 1953 – 15 March 1996)
was a British sculptor, photographer and installation artist. In 1987, she became one of the first women artists to be nominated for The Turner Prize. Chadwick was known for "challenging stereotypical perceptions of the body in elegant yet unconventional forms. Her work draws from a range of sources, from myths to science, grappling with a plethora of unconventional, visceral materials that included chocolate, lambs tongues and rotting vegetable matter. Her skilled use of traditional fabrication methods and sophisticated technologies transform these unusual materials into complex installations. Maureen Paley noted that "Helen was always talking about craftsmanship—a constant fount of information". Binary oppositions was a strong theme in Chadwick's work; seductive/repulsive, male/female, organic/man-made. Her combinations "emphasise yet simultaneously dissolve the contrasts between them". Her gender representations forge a sense of ambiguity and a disquieting sexuality blurring the boundaries of ourselves as singular and stable beings."
Chadwick began exhibiting regularly from 1977, gradually building her reputation as an artist. Her rise into the public sphere was marked by the inclusion of her work Ego Geometria Sum (1983) in a group exhibition entitled Summer Show I (1983) at the Serpentine. In 1985 she began an active teaching career as a visiting lecturer across a number of London art schools. Her posts at Goldsmiths (1985–90), Chelsea College of Arts, London (1985–95), Central Saint Martins, London (1987–95) and the Royal College of Art (1990–94) ensured an important influence on contemporary British Art in the late 1980s and ‘90s, specifically on the Young British Artists.
Chadwick’s work really came to prominence with Of Mutability (1986-87), a large installation involving sculpture and photography at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. This exhibition that toured a number of venues in England, Scotland and Switzerland resulted in her nomination for the Turner Prize in 1987. This was the first year that women were nominated for Britain’s most prestigious contemporary art award.
In 1990 Chadwick was invited to exhibit in a photography festival in Houston, Texas, where she met a local artist David Notarius. The following year he moved to Beck Road and they married.
In the summer of 1994, Chadwick's exhibition Effluvia opened at the Serpentine Gallery, London. This exhibition marked the high point of Chadwick's exposure, receiving widespread critical attention and national press coverage. The exhibition was seen by 54,000 visitors, breaking the record for the gallery. In 1995, Chadwick received her first solo exhibition in the United States at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, entitled Helen Chadwick: Bad Blooms. In 1995, Chadwick took up an artist residency in the assisted conception unit at King's College Hospital, London, photographing IVF embryos rejected for implantation. She used the photos in Unnatural Selection, a series on which she was working when she died. Chadwick's work is included in the collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Tate and the Museum of Modern Art.