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Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Guest editor: Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin

Every year the Today programme hands over the editorship to leading public figures in the week between Christmas and New Year. Editing the programme on 28 December was the artist Tracey Emin.

Her programme looks into the future of her hometown Margate, the economic importance of art, and whether people still aspire to be teachers.


Tracey Emin spent most of her childhood in the seaside town of Margate. She has returned to it again and again, both in her art and in person.

Most recently she's been a staunch supporter of the town's new Turner Contemporary gallery, creating a neon "I never stopped loving you" for the gallery and in homage to her hometown.

Tracey believes that the gallery has and will play a significant role in Margate's economic regeneration and has been dismayed at what she sees as the "unbelievable" decline of the past 20 years.

She returns to Margate to find out how local people feel about their town and what it is like growing up in Margate today.

Our guest editor believes that the visual arts have a key role to play in our country's economic growth, a role that the Chancellor acknowledged in his budget speech.

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate galleries and Gregor Muir, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), examine just how much potential there is for the visual arts to contribute to the growth of the economy.

Tracey Emin is a fan of the radio voice. For her programme, she asked three of her favourite broadcasters to read passages from famous poems.

Frank Skinner reads Lord Byron's When We Two Parted, writer Jeanette Winterson reads William Blake's The Divine Image and Sue MacGregor reads Your School by Carol Ann Duffy.

Tracey Emin is concerned that the standing of teachers in society has declined significantly. She believes that whilst in the past to want to be a teacher was considered apparitional, this is no longer the case.

She also wonders whether the depiction of teachers in popular culture - primarily on television - has played a role.

She asked reporter Sanchia Berg to track down her most inspiring teacher to find out what had changed.

The quality of food offered to patients in hospitals is an issue close to Tracey Emin's heart - towards the end of his life her father was confined to hospital and but felt unable to eat the food served to him.

She asked health correspondent Jane Dreaper to investigate why our institutions have such a problem providing good, wholesome, tasty food.

And the chef and restaurateur Heston Blumenthal, who has been involved in a project seeking to make hospital food more palatable, outlines his criticisms of, and hopes for, the quality of hospital catering.

For the Thought for the Day segment on the programme, Tracey Emin asked the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones to ponder the question - does love exist.

Tracey returned to her old school because it was from the art department there that she believes she got the spirit that made her an artist.

She was also was keen to hear some of her contemporaries talk about works of art that have moved or inspired them for her programme. Here, the artist Conrad Shawcross speaks about his inspiration: Death of Actaeon by Titian.

And artist Mat Collishaw talks about his choice: Boy Bitten by a Lizard by Caravaggio.

Finally, Tracey Emin explained why she chose to focus on the topics she did during her stint as guest editor on the Today programme.


One of the most prominent, and controversial, British artists of recent years, Tracey Emin's often confessional works can be seen in galleries around the world.

Her uncompromising installations, including Everyone I've Ever Slept With 1963-1995 and My Bed, have drawn both bouquets and brickbats from public and critics alike.

In December 2011, she was appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy, one of only two female professors since the Academy was founded in 1768.

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