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Helen Chadwick

A Retrospective

The first major survey exhibition of Chadwick’s work, featuring over seventy pieces including many of her most well-known photographs, sculptures and installations

Helen Chadwick (1953-1996) was one of the founders of British art as we know it. When Chadwick began making her name in the early ‘80s, contemporary art had little public profile in this country. However, by the time of her sudden death in the mid-nineties, when was at the height of her fame, the idea of young British art had become a national talking point. Chadwick was one of the first women artists nominated for the Turner Prize (1987).  

Helen Chadwick was typical of her generation in her willingness to comment on social issues in her work, including gender and sexuality, AIDS and environmental concerns. However, it is the highly sensual nature of her work for which she is most famous. 

Tagged with: Art Gallery Archive

The exhibition was curated by Mark Sladen of Barbican Art Gallery, and is organised with the help of the Helen Chadwick Estate.  

Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, TwoTen Gallery & Contemporary Initiatives, Wellcome Trust, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, ACE

Blood Hyphen

As an off-site project, the Barbican recreated Blood Hyphen, one of Chadwick’s key installations, at the Woodbridge Chapel (formerly the Clerkenwell Medical Mission) where it was originally shown.

The work, created in 1988, is an important transitional piece exploring more allegorical ways of representing the body.  The venue is a non-conformist chapel which for some years housed an NHS surgery.  In the 1970s a false ceiling was installed, removing the top of the hall from view.  In Blood Hyphen, Chadwick used the hall’s history as a medical treatment centre and created an installation in the hidden space which was darkened and filled with smoke.  A laser beam cut across the darkness to hit a transparency depicting cells from a cervical smear test. Chadwick said she wanted the space to be experienced as a bodily cavity as well as having religious overtones.  To see the work, visitors climb a ladder and look through a hole in the ceiling. 

Supported by TwoTen Gallery & Contemporary Initiatives/The Wellcome Trust, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Arts Council of England.


Barbican Art Gallery, London
29 Apr–1 Aug 2004

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
25 Sep–21 Nov 2004

Trapholt Kunstmuseet, Kolding
20 Jan–9 May 2005

Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm
17 Sep–25 Nov 2005