Rachael Champion (b. 1982, Long Island, New York, USA) graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools in 2010. Champion lives and works in Thanet, UK.
Champion’s artworks explore the physical, material, and historical relationships between ecology, industry, and the built environment. Her works are typically large in scale and consist of living organisms and ubiquitous building materials. Coalescing at an intersection between biology, geology, and architecture, Champion’s work addresses the corporeality of the materials we extract, transform, and consume and how these actions affect the physical characteristics of landscapes, ecosystems, and the built environment.
Champion is drawn to materials commonly found on major construction sites and infrastructure projects. These industrial products, often hidden in the landscape or considered objects to assimilate into natural environments, are deliberately focused on and exhibited with basic but essential examples of plant life. The living matter sometimes included in the work not only emphasises the temporal nature of these fabricated environments but also encourages the spontaneous evolution of the piece.
Champion’s work most often manifests as a response to a place or a landscape with careful consideration to a site’s characteristics and history. Contrasting industrial materials with ecological matter, such as plants, grasses and algae, her work challenges our interrelated expectations of the two. Carefully orchestrated arrangements of both human-made and organic materials create environments that resonate a sense of imminent otherness. Champion aims to assert and express an interconnectivity between the built environment and the natural world, which has become paramount to communicate in the face of climate change.
Champion’s work has been exhibited in a number of recognised institutions including Royal Academy of Arts, The Whitechapel Gallery, Modern Art Oxford, Camden Arts Centre and the Zabludowicz Collection, all UK. Rachael has made numerous site-specific installations in a variety of contexts including commercial galleries, artist-run exhibition spaces, art fairs, and remote landscapes. She has been awarded a number of prizes and residencies including the Red Mansion Art Prize in 2010, The Arts Foundation Award for Sculpture 2013, an honouree artist at the Hirshhorn Museum Gala in 2016, and in 2018 she was an artist-in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska. Highlights include Discoverers of Onkalo 2017, a permanent installation on the island of Sarvisalo, Finland commissioned by the Zabludowicz Collection. In October of 2019 she installed Tower of Varieties, an ambitious eleven metre suspended sculpture at the Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham, UK, and in the Autumn of 2020 installed her first permanent public sculpture Course and Flow in Haringey, North London.