16 May 2011

Tracey Emin’s shock art shifts ‘from sex to love’

In a new show which marks a new phase in a career which has often focused on the artist’s personal life, Tracey Emin talks to Channel 4 News about growing up, falling in love and voting Conservative.

Controversial artist Tracey Emin, famous for her installation of an unmade bed and a tent inscribed with the names of past lovers, has unveiled a major new retrospective at London’s Hayward Gallery.

Love Is What You Want features new sculptures and key works from her earlier career including her appliquéd blankets and words scribbled in neon lights.

Containing a warning about explicit images, the exhibition features shock works from an artist associated with sex.

But it is also a show that marks a turning point in her notorious, emotionally compelling career.

Speaking to Culture Editor Matthew Cain, Tracey Emin said her latest exhibition depicts a shift from sex to love, and illustrates her metamorphosis into a woman.

“I’d just love to fall in love,” the artist told Channel 4 News.

Tracey Emin unveils her latest shock show

“I just want to fall in love. Also, I want people to really fall in love with my show. I think love is what you want. I think it’s an honest thing to say and it’s really simple and it doesn’t matter whether you’re aged four or aged 90, you understand what that sentence means.

After 20 years as an artist, Emin says her work is still driven from the same core.

“I’ve changed, my body’s changed, my mind’s changed, but…it’s like wax – the candle is still there, the wax just changes its form.

Tracey Emin’s latest sensational retrospective. Matthew Cain reviews the exhibition. Click here for more

“I’m still here except I’ve changed, I’ve morphed into something different but the essence of me still retains the same thing.

“I’m not a girl anymore, I’m a woman. I have a lot more responsibility for what I do. Its going into another area of responsibility of what I do. After 20 years of doing it I have to protect it, I have to care for it and I have to defend it even more than I did before.”

The artist who is known for shocking her audience told Channel 4 News that she would be disappointed if viewers didn’t find humour in her new show.

Tracey Emin unveils her latest shock art.

“People that know me know that I’ve got a bit of a wicked sense of humour and I do push it to quite some limits,” she said.

“People that don’t know me always think I’m moaning and crying and my love life’s a disaster, I’m in I’m in hospital my world’s completely fallen to pieces – but people that know me know that a lot of my strength is the fact that I do laugh a lot.

“You can come to this show and you can spend at least three hours here at least looking at everything. And if you didn’t laugh in that time you would have missed some of the major points in the show.”

On the record as voting Conservative, Emin says was “slammed” for revealing her political leaning last year.

“I got asked what I voted and I said I was going to vote Conservative. That’s what I said and that’s what I did,” she said.

“I now realise the British people have to keep it a secret what they vote because I got such a slamming from everybody. On the other hand, hey, guess what? Cameron won. I’m still pleased with the decision that I made.”