More recently she has become a bit of an embarrassing celeb, moaning about high taxes and, horror of horrors, publically admitting to voitng Tory in the last election (though she has subsequently criticised their art education policy). She has joined that select club with Morrissey and Jeanette Winterson of people whose younger selves' influence on my younger self can't be erased by their later baleful utterances - I guess you can't complain too much if you are drawn to professional contrarians and they end up acting in ways contrary to your own expectations of them.
I might not like Tracey Emin in her current guise, but I can still admire the version of her who recalled walking through the Elephant and Castle in 1990 when Margaret Thatcher stood down as Prime Minister: 'I looked up at the buses, and people were banging on the windows and going 'Yeah!' And I noticed people were jumping up and down in the street...People looked so happy. I felt absolute jubilation' (quoted in 'Margaret Thatcher' by John Campbell, 2004).
As a homeless teenager, she ended up being housed in Waterloo after six months of daily hassling Southwark Council . Later, she had a studio somewhere round the Elephant around 1990 though I'm not sure exactly where. In that period she worked for Southwark Council as a youth worker for a couple of years, and in 1992 she met her sometime collaborator Sarah Lucas when the latter had an exhibition,'A penis nailed to a board', at City Racing - a former betting shop near the Oval (in a funny interview a couple of years ago, Lucas pointed out that she actually was a working class artist from a London council estate, whereas Emin's dad was a sometime businessman - not that Emin didn't have some very hard times).
Emin has a new book out, My Photo Album, with some of the proceeds going to the no longer fashionable HIV charity The Terrence Higgins Trust. And I will also give her additional points for once donating some drawings to one of my favourite charities, Celia Hammond Animal Trust (of Lewisham Way, Canning Town and Hastings), from where we once secured two lovely cats - well nobody ever manages to come out of there with just one.
Come on Tracey, there's still time to dismiss those Cameron fan club moments as a terrible mid-life crisis and to grow old disgracefully.
|Tracey Emin in her Elephant and Castle studio, 1990|