Tracey Emin You forgot to kiss my soul 2001

After graduating from the RCA with an MA in painting, Tracey Emin (b. 1963) emerged onto the British art scene in the early 1990s, running The Shop in East London with friend and artist Sarah Lucas. Feisty, and clearly possessing an admirable entrepreneurial spirit, Emin invited people to ‘invest’ £20 in her creative potential. One of those, Jay Jopling, became her dealer. She also began writing as a form of artistic practice. In the following years Emin had her first exhibition entitled ‘My Major Retrospective’ (1993), at White Cube gallery, her first exhibition in a public gallery at the South London Gallery (1997), and opened her own public studio/gallery space, The Tracey Emin Museum, on Waterloo Road (1995-98).  From the start it was obvious that Emin’s willingness to make works of art that make use of often very intimate details of her personal history is a significant part of her strength. Sometimes confrontational or sexually provocative, Emin’s work resonates with the ‘personal is political’ legacy of feminist art while at the same time maintaining a universal accessibility that speaks to relationships in general.  Her works also relate more broadly to issues of spirituality, cultural identity, class, and celebrity. Her vibrant personality, strength and apparent fearlessness while candidly admitting to feelings of weakness somehow makes her art all the more interesting, makes you want to identify with her.

Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery said:

‘Tracey Emin is one of the most celebrated and talked about artists of her generation, and this exhibition – her first major survey in a public gallery in London – will be both an artistic home-coming and a new look at the full range of her achievement.’

The Hayward Gallery exhibition features key works from all periods of her career and in all media, including painting, textiles, works on paper, photography, neon, film and sculpture.  Works are arranged either thematically or juxtaposed to invite new readings of them.

Highlights include a concentrated presentation of the most famous appliqué blankets such as Hotel International (1993) and Psyco Slut (1999), a darkened room showcasing over a dozen neon works alongside videos, and a large room of recent works in a lighter palette that tend toward abstraction. The installation comprising Menphis (2003), an exhibition originally staged at the Carl Freedman Gallery, London will be recreated and a suite of more contemporary paintings also feature. Rarely seen sculptural works are presented including Emin’s Army (1999), Tacimin – Can you hear me? (1997), an exploration of the afterlife through an Ouija board, and Salem (2005), a five metre high tower of reclaimed wood with a white neon running down its length.  For the Hayward Gallery exhibition, Emin is planning a new series of outdoor sculptures, offering a surprising and new direction to her work. Additionally, the artist will present a new photographic work and neon signs for the first time in the exhibition.

The exhibition is supported by Louis Vuitton and is a highlight of Southbank Centre’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain with MasterCard.

18 May – 29 August 2011
Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre

The public programme includes:

23rd May 2011 | Talks with Tracey Emin
8th June 2011 | Germaine Greer, Darian Leader, and curator Sir Norman Rosenthal on sexuality in British contemporary art
15th June 2011 |  Author and scholar Jennifer Doyle
7th July 2011 | Writer Ali Smith
13th June 2011 | Study day discussing various aspects of Emin’s practice

Words by Anna Bang

Tracey Emin Tacimin – Can you hear me? 1997 © the artist
The Cooper Family Foundation

Tracey Emin Black cat 2001 – 2008 © the artist
Photo: Todd White art photography
Private collection

Tracey Emin Mad Tracey from Margate. Everyone’s been there 1997 © the artist
Photo: Steven White
Goetz Collection, Munich

Tracey Emin self portrait (Sometimes there is no tomorrow)


Jay Jopling, Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin,