Helen Chadwick

I suddenly had the thought that this blog is a bit phallocentric (when I first heard that word at Art School I thought it was something they had made up) in it’s representation of art. I’m not totally sure that I’m going to have a Female Artists Week as that seems a bit ‘list-y’ and lists are no doubt a symbol of subjugative phallocentric thinking: everything numbered 1-10 ought to constitute a reproach to the male psyché; (after my first term in art school I could no longer roll a cigarette without the act of shaping it forming the suggestion of gender suppression in my febrile mind).

Helen Chadwick was an artist I loved because she seemed quite rude but the pieces she made were rather compelling. These sculptures – piss flowers, as they are titled – below were typical of her style. To do what comes naturally in snow and make bronze casts of it: what could be greater and more simple? Or perhaps not so simple, how would you make that cast anyway – from what?

Helen Chadwick’s boyfriend contributed to the process – in the final pieces it is his efforts that end up looking like the female parts and vice-versa due to the different urinating techniques.

To explain this in a more sophisticated terminology, here is a very ‘soft’ example of the sort of language I encountered when I first came across ‘art writing’ –

The pleasure of a taboo act exalted through the object, their flower pistils cast from the cavities melted in the snow by hot urine, strong and warm from the woman, diffuse and cooler from the man, are an inversion of human genitalia. The central female form is penile, the male labial.

Piss Flowers, 1991-92, painted bronzes

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5 Responses to Helen Chadwick

  1. makemeadiva says:

    Is she dead?

    I didn’t know what to make of them then, ditto now. Inelegant title though.

    Piss??? Women do not do that!

  2. Stephen Foster says:

    I’ve always wondered about the title, but this is what we find with the filly distaff artists ; ) I bet Mad Tracey from Margate has got a few worse than that : )

    Yes, she died in ’96 of a strange virus she picked up researching something in a hospital that stopped her heart beating properly. She was only 42.



  3. OS says:

    OMG!!! Pissholes in the snow has now taken on an entirely new meaning. Is there nothing sacred any more? 😦


  4. Stephen Foster says:

    I’m breaking you in gently here OS, they forced me to learn about well-less sacred stuff than this ; )

  5. makemeadiva says:

    Presumably chosen with mild shock in mind. Or maybe a feminist stance. My girls have once or twice said that “I’m going for a …” and I correct them sternly! Would they be any less memorable with a different moniker I wonder.

    42 is no age 😦

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