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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Tracey Emin gets personal in Venice

By Rebecca Jones
BBC arts correspondent in Venice

Tracey Emin
Emin is only the second woman to represent the UK at the Biennale
Tracey Emin is running late. That's normal.

There's always a reason.

This time it's because her private jet has been delayed. Last week she was late because her airline lost all her luggage on a flight to Venice, where she is representing the UK at the world's longest-running international art exhibition, the Venice Biennale.

When she finally arrives at the British Pavilion, situated in the city's public gardens, she's a curious mix of the fearless and the fragile.

"What do you think of the exhibition?," she asks, before adding: "I'm really happy with the show."

Like so much of Emin's work, it's intensely personal.

For the first time, she's showing a series of drawings she made about being sexually abused when she was nine - as well as 27 watercolours about her abortion in 1990.

People see me as a loudmouth, a bull in a china shop
Tracey Emin
"I wanted to show the work that really means something to me," she says.

"It's probably going to be the most important show of my life.

"It's not every day you represent your country doing what you've been working at for 25 years."


Yet Emin was not the British Council's unanimous choice to be the country's art ambassador at this year's Venice Biennale.

She doesn't care, though, and she isn't surprised.

Tracey Emin's After My Abortion
Emin's exhibition includes a series of paintings about her abortion
"I thought I'd be too edgy, I thought I was too risky," she admits.

"I've really let myself down so often in loads of ways. I don't mean with my art, but with my moods and my wildness.

"People see me as a loudmouth, a bull in a china shop.

"Often at the Venice Biennale, countries tend to show their big 'wow' stuff, in a big wow kind of way.

"And I can be a big wow kind of person if I want to, but I decided to be as intimate as possible."


24 hours later Emin has switched to party mode. It's VIP day at the Biennale and the star of the show is wearing a low-cut blouse with a black and yellow satin bra underneath.

Tracey Emin's Bed
Emin's most famous work is her unmade bed
She welcomes celebrity guests, including Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish.

Viscount Linley and the model Naomi Campbell arrive minutes later.

And today is just the start - this week will be a hectic round of lunches, dinners, parties and interviews.

But after it's all over and the art circus has moved on, Emin plans to remain in Venice to look at other people's exhibitions.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing.

"That's when it's exciting."

In pictures: Venice Biennale 2007
07 Jun 07 |  In Pictures
Emin art show planned for Venice
25 Aug 06 |  Entertainment

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