Tracey Emin has spoken out about her plans for 2022 and beyond following her recent battle with cancer that almost took her life.
The 58-year-old artist best known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork, was diagnosed in 2020 with squamous-cell bladder cancer and had to undergo surgery.
In July that year, Emin’s surgery left her without her bladder, her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, lymph nodes, part of her colon, urethra and some of her vagina.
In November 2020 The Sunday Times ran a story about Emin’s cancer battle with the headline: “To get past Christmas would be good”.
Now the English artist is in remission and making plans to found her own art school.
She wants to transform the British seaside town of Margate – in Kent, where Emin was raised – into a haven for artists with an art school, residency program, and a “mini-museum” dedicated to her work.
Having already purchased a former mortuary, she plans to convert that into 30 art studios that could be used by students.
Emin began to gain public notoriety for her work in the late 1990s, following her appearance on Channel 4’s Is Painting Dead? in 1997.
In 1999 she was shortlisted for the coveted Turner Prize and exhibited ‘My Bed’ in the Tate – arguably her most famous piece of artwork.
‘My Bed’ was a sculpture that featured crumpled bed with used condoms, an apple core, Rizlas, lube, vodka bottles and other detritus.
Emin claimed it was an exact representation of the state of her bed after she had spent several days in it whilst enduring a period of suicidal depression and heavy drinking.
In 2014 the sculpture was auctioned to raise money for Christie’s and was sold for £2,546,500.
Emin is also well-known for an installation titled Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 which featured a tent adorned with the names of everybody the artist had ever shared a bed with.
There were 102 names including family, friends, drinking partners, lovers and even two numbered foetuses.
Since becoming unwell in summer 2020, Emin has spoken out numerously, openly and publicly about her cancer.
She once thought that her exhibition at the Royal Academy with Edvard Munch, which opened for just nine days before lockdown, might be her farewell show.
She took photographs and kept records in hospital during her recovery, many of which have been published in The Guardian.
Emin admitted that she has good days and bad days since going into remission but her focus is on the future.
Speaking to The Times about her school plans, Emin said:“People will have to apply, and there’ll be really strict rules. No subletting, no smoking, no loud music.”
As part of the programme, the school, to be called TKE Studios for her own name (Tracey Karima Emin), will demand that students put their work on public view.
“So there’s like this constant intellectual rigor,” she said. “People can’t just be passive.”
For three or four months at a time, Emin wants to host artists in Margate and hopes some will fall in love with the city and decide to stay.
Upon her death – now much more safely out of view than before – she hopes that her properties will be turned into a museum to house her work and her archive of 30,000 photographs, 2,000 works on paper, 500 framed drawings, and books that will form a research library.