Helen Chadwick

Essay by mammahHigh School, 12th grade April 2014

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Helen Chadwick

Helen Chadwick was born in Britain in 1953; she studied at both The Faculty of Arts and Architecture Briton Polytechnic (between 1973-6) and the Chelsea School of Art, London (1976-7). In her early career she was deemed a feminist with many of her works dealing with issues of the role and image of women is society. One of her earliest works in London 'In the kitchen' dealt with these themes.

This 1977 work was a combination of performance art and installation attempting to highlight the femininity of women in the kitchen. She encased four models in modern appliances, using metal frames so they could still move around the gallery at will. The machines then became humanlike, with electric rings turning into breastplates and the spin-dryer's drum became openly equated with a womb. The models' faces and expressions remained enigmatic, symbolising the female body as a machine paralleling the idea that 'we are not our own property, that we are not ourselves'.

This idea Chadwick used in her work correlates with the ideas of artists such as Cindy Shearman and Barbara Kruger.

Her focus on the body becomes more evident as her works progress. The majority of her works are in the medium of photography with sculpture and installation art also being used. She wrote on photography - 'Photography is my skin. As membrane separating this from that, it fixes the point between, establishing my limit, the envelope in which I am. My skin is image, surface, and medium of recognition. Existing out there, the photograph appears to duplicate the world, disclosing me within its virtual space.'

Often incorporating unusual and gruesome substances in the creation of her work, these substances include; flesh, flowers, chocolate, plant...