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’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 recent works on paper mark a new way of working for the artist, in which she is using her extensive research as the artwork, rather than to inform it. For years she has photographed her surroundings for in-depth research purposes. Now, these detailed photographs are spot lit in exciting, vibrant collages. Champion creates surreal compositions by contrasting found arrangements of materials, objects, and nature with swirls of vivid watercolour. Subconsciously pushing paint around, watercolour is her choice of medium for its unpredictability and for obtaining the desired effect of atmospheric fluid dynamics. Playing with scale, piles of bricks and tubing float in wavering washes of acid green, yellow and red.
Ordinarily, Champion works on long-term, large-scale public projects, so this alternative way of making has a sensuous immediacy. Her scientific titles offer insight into her research areas – for this set of works she drew inspiration from the subject Carbon Sink. The related technical terms, which denote greenhouse gas emissions, mechanics, and deep time natural history events have a strange and subtle poetry to them.