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Contemporary Art

Meet the Artists: Helen Chadwick & Dom Sylvester Houédard

An exhibition of works by Helen Chadwick and Dom Sylvester Houédard will go on display at S|2 in London on 4 August. Beneath the Pavement, the Beach will also include a collection of Tantric, Jain and Ritual Art from India. Ahead of the opening, we take a brief look back at the life and works of Chadwick and Houédard.  

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HELEN CHADWICK WITH HER INSTALLATION PISS FLOWERS, 1992. PHOTOGRAPH © KIPPA MATTHEWS. COURTESY THE HELEN CHADWICK ESTATE AND RICHARD SALTOUN GALLERY. 

The presentation of Helen Chadwick's iconic series Wreaths to Pleasure, 1992-93, reveals the humorous and thought provoking nature of her artistic practice. Consisting of thirteen cibachrome prints, the Wreaths to Pleasure depict carefully arranged flowers such as orchids, orange tulips, dandelions and white narcissi. The flowers are playfully grouped to resemble sexual organs and are juxtaposed alongside poisonous household liquids such as Windolene, Germolene and Fairy liquid. Created over a two year period, Chadwick encircled each wreath with a different brightly coloured enamel and powder-coated steel frame.

The work fuses oppositions of seduction and repulsion alongside the natural and artificial. The work is at once intimate and experimental with its exploration of identity, desire and experience. The Wreaths to Pleasure series was first exhibited in 1994 at the artist's solo exhibition Effluvia at the Serpentine Gallery, London. Later that year the series travelled to the XXII Bienal de Sao Paulo and in 1996 it was exhibited as part of Bad Blooms at MoMA, New York. Helen Chadwick's works have been included in the international collections of the Tate and Victoria & Albert Museum, London and MoMA, New York.

Dom Sylvester Houédard at Signals Gallery 1964
Photograph

DOM SYLVESTER HOUÉDARD IN 1964 AT SIGNALS GALLERY, LONDON. PHOTOGRAPH: CLAY PERRY/ENGLAND & CO. GALLERY, LONDON.

Dom Sylvester Houédard (1924-1992) was a Benedictine monk and concrete poet who was a pivotal figure in the avant-garde scene of the 1960s in London. Entering into the Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire in 1949, his lifelong interest in poetry led to his participation in the international Concrete Poetry movement. Also known as 'dsh', the artist wrote extensively on new spiritual approaches to art, and in 1961 he became a literary editor for the New Testament Jerusalem Bible. His abstract visual poems, known as Typestracts, in A4 size and format, were exhibited regularly throughout the 1960s at Signals Gallery, Lisson Gallery and the ICA, London.

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DOM SYLVESTER HOUÉDARD, JEWELLED PIG 711214, 1971. 

His exhibition Dom Sylvester Houédard Visual Poetries at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1970 represented the first major display of his work in the United Kingdom. The exhibition was curated by Carol Hogben in collaboration with Lisson Gallery and contained fifty works dating from the period 1963-70. In the catalogue's introductory text, art historian Guy Brett noted: "Dom Sylvester Houedard's Typestracts are poems made with a typewriter. Their great visual beauty and delicacy makes you realise at once how little the typewriter as a machine has been put to imaginative use." 

 

MAIN IMAGE: HELEN CHADWICK, WREATH TO PLEASURE NO. 1 (ORANGE, TUPLIS, PLUM), 1992-93. 

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