1971, London, UK. Lives and works in Barcelona, Spain
Her inspiration is the small, often unnoticed details which make up everyday life: Chimney smoke, burnished gold, patterns under peeling paint, broken stairs leading nowhere, the ravages of time etched onto metal, a pathway through an arid landscape… “Every painting I begin, the layers and texture continue to fascinate me as does the process. My subject matter remains the same, the material itself, the coast, the sea, lines of desire that criss-cross the landscape, time and its corrosive effect on materials and finding the beauty in what we see around us. The world filters into my studio, colour, light, politics, religion, people. Conversations remain with me, maps mesmerize me, travel enthuses me. Creating and painting is an imperative and an obsession I couldn’t live a day without.“
For her, metal is a canvas on which she studies the effect of time, water and oxygen – mixing diluted nitric and hydrochloric acid and using it to corrode the protective oily skin that preserves the surface of steel, then scratching it to encourage rust. From this, layer by layer, she creates three-dimensional abstracts – paint sculptures – where textures and colours merge and change with alterations in the light.
The art critic Alex Bahna said that ‘Chelsea wanted to bring out the whole harmonious, elemental’ process in her work, or as she puts it: “Make something beautiful and delicate out of something as uncompromising as steel, stone, copper or lead.” However it is not the purity and permanence of the metal that interests Chelsea, but how it ages.