Chadwick was born in London and studied art at Brighton Polytechnic and Chelsea School of Art and Design, London. It was while she was still a student that Chadwick became interested in the body as a focus of personal identity. The majority of her works are three-dimensional, but she also worked in video and with installations involving slide projections. She frequently used her own body as the subject of her work. Chadwick's direct approach in making work relating to female identity has been highly influential. She was nominated twice for the Turner Prize.