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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Emin defends her art
Tracey Emin
Emin: "I should have won the Turner prize"
Provocative British artist Tracey Emin has spoken of the effort needed to produce her artworks, which often come in for criticism as well as acclaim.

One of her most famous pieces, Everyone I Ever Slept With 1963-1995, a tent embroidered with the names of those the title suggests, features more than 100 names.

Art collector and advertising guru Charles Saatchi bought it for £40,000, before buying My Bed, another notorious work, for £150,000.


If people say the bed's a joke or a confidence trick I'd say they're not very interested in art

Tracey Emin
"It's not so easy as everyone thinks," she told the Radio Times ahead of an appearance on Sunday's arts programme The South Bank Show on ITV.

"First you have this amazing inspiration and then you need the conviction to do it and persuade others what it is, and that takes a long time.

"If people say it's a joke or a confidence trick I'd say they're not very interested in art.

"I should have won the Turner Prize, but knew I wouldn't because it's political."

My Bed, which was shortlisted for the prize, was a recreation of the scene where she spent four days contemplating suicide.

My Bed by Tracey Emin
Charles Saatchi bought My Bed for £150,000
Emin, 38, added that she did not do her art to "seek attention", saying: "I work 18-hour days for long stretches so I'm not doing that for notoriety or fame or money.

"It's an achievement to have got where I am without falling in with the system. If I were a doctor people wouldn't question what I do. Because I'm an artist they do."

The artist, known for her confessional style in her work, has made no secret of the traumas she has suffered in the past.

She was raped aged 13, and went through teenage promiscuity, an abortion, miscarriage, attempted suicide and drink problem.

Traumatic

But she said during the interview that rape was not the worst thing that can happen to a woman.

"I know Fay Weldon was completely hammered for telling you it's not the worst thing that can happen to a woman. Well it isn't.

"It's a horrendous act against humanity, but people in Sierra Leone have had their hands chopped off for teaching primary school children how to read," she said.

Her recent solo exhibition You Forgot To Kiss My Soul included a patchwork square embroidered with Something Really Terrible - about the death of an unwanted baby.

Drink problem

Her art is renowned for touching upon the most traumatic events of her personal life.

Emin has come in for her fair share of criticism for her art, but she is quick to defend it.

The 38-year-old confessed that her turbulent life almost led to the destruction of her relationship with her boyfriend, fellow artist Mat Collishaw.

She said: "I could take my drink brilliantly but then is became like a garrotte round my neck.

"I was aggressive, nasty and spiteful, so it's like holding your mates to ransom.

"Eventually my boyfriend said he'd leave if I had one more whisky. I didn't want the bottle to be my only friend, so I stopped drinking spirits in September 1999, but not wine and beer."

See also:

25 Apr 01 | Arts
Emin's new show gets personal
16 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Tracey makes a pile
20 Sep 00 | UK
Art's shock treatment
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