Art / arnolfini

Tracey Emin talks to Bristol24/7

By lou trimby, Friday May 29, 2015

Tracey Emin is one of the pre-eminent and most recognisable artists of the past 25 years. She first came to prominence as one of the Young British Artists (YBAs), a catchall term for a number of visual artists who began to exhibit with each other in the late 1980s. The YBAs included Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk, Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin.

While Emin was the last of the YBAs to receive critical plaudits and success, of the group she has retained credibility and continued to push boundaries whilst creating art which can be, in turn visceral, thought provoking,emotive, defiantly ‘ugly’ and ravishingly beautiful.

Tracey Emin took a little time out of her hectic schedule to answer a few questions from Bristol24/7 about The Other Art Fair, her work and her art.

What convinced you to get involved with The Other Art Fair?
I like things on ground level and I like my studio to be active. It’s hard work, but a lot of fun. I really enjoy it when I go.

Are you taking a curatorial role or simply presenting your own artwork?
Myself and the studio try to decide together on what to take and how the stand will look. The main thing is to make it fun and accessible.

You are one of the most famous and outspoken artists in the UK, do you feel your fame has in any way distracted the public from the work you create?
Being well-known and recognised as an artist has its good side and bad side. First, it’s very unusual. Not many artists throughout history are recognisable and very few are women. Most artists are firmly recognised by their actual work. So for this reason, yes it has been a hindrance because it has stopped a number of areas of the art world from taking me seriously. But I think times are changing. The establishment is catching up and people are not so snobby or class conscious towards success. 

My Bed is being shown at Tate Britain for the first time since 1999 and you were quoted as saying the Tate is “the natural home” for the piece, why this particular gallery, apart from it being the first place to exhibit it?
Tate was not the first place My Bed was exhibited. It was first shown in Sagacho gallery in Tokyo in 1998 . Then Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York in 1999. It just seemed to look good and feel right at Tate… like it had come home – and it has!

Do you feel that you are part of the establishment now or do you still feel like an outsider?
I’m nearly 52. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years and nothing else, no deviation. Yes, I should be part of the establishment by now? 

If you were given the opportunity and an unlimited budget to spend on art and culture in the UK by the Government what would be the first things you would do?
Make art much bigger and bolder in schools so that it would be taken very seriously. I would improve the public collections. Keep museums open until 8pm and for free, and make sure they had amazing restaurants so they could make an income that paid for the art.

Tracey Emin has created a special print for the Other Art Fair at the Arnolfini from June 5 to 7. For more information, visit 

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