Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Sunday, 30 May 2004 15:30 UK

Emin anger over public 'sniggers'

Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin lost three pieces of work in the fire

Artist Tracey Emin has condemned people who "sniggered" at contemporary art and laughed when pieces of her work were destroyed by a fire in a warehouse.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast with Frost, she said she was not upset at the loss, but at the British public's reaction.

"The majority of the British public have no regard or no respect to what me and my peers do, to the point that they laugh at a disaster like a fire.

"We really don't need to laugh at the culture in our own country," she said.

Three of her works were destroyed in the blaze in east London last week along with pieces by other major modern artists including Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

About 100 "irreplaceable" works belonging to collector Charles Saatchi were also destroyed.

You don't laugh at people's loss
Tracey Emin

Ms Emin, 41, said the negative reaction came from people who either "don't like contemporary art or aren't educated about it".

She insisted: "You don't laugh at people's loss on that kind of level and it's really absolutely lucky that no-one was hurt."

When asked why there would be a different response to the loss of paintings by more traditional artists, she replied: "I'm not saying they have to understand it, what I'm saying is don't laugh when it all burns down.

"It is just not fair and it's not funny and it's not polite and it's bad manners.

Emin's Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995. Photo: Stephen White
The artist's embroidered tent was lost in the fire

"I would never laugh at a disaster like that - I just have some empathy and sympathy with people's loss."

And she said that her lost pieces of work cannot be remade.

One piece was a tent emblazoned with names called "Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-95" which first brought her to public attention.

"I had the inclination and inspiration 10 years ago to make that, I don't have that inspiration and inclination now," she said.

"My work is very personal, which people know, so I can't create that emotion again - it's impossible."

The tent, which included 102 names sewn on to the sides, was nominated for the Turner Prize and Saatchi is thought to have paid 40,000 for it.

The fire, which is thought to have destroyed more than 50m of art, broke out at a storage facility, on an industrial estate in Leyton on Monday.

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28 May 04 |  Arts & Culture
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27 May 04 |  Arts & Culture
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27 May 04 |  Arts & Culture
Saatchi 'devastated' by art blaze
26 May 04 |  Arts & Culture


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