Tracey Emin “Love is What You Want”

I went to Tracey Emin’s solo show at the Hayward Gallery in the Southbank Centre last week.  I’m glad I did as I can’t remember when I last enjoyed an exhibition so much.

As with most exhibitions photography was not allowed, but I couldn’t resist taking some sneaky ones from the staircase.  (I did also buy the catalogue and a good selection of postcards!)

It gives you a really good idea of the scale (you can just see someone’s head in the bottom left hand corner) and impact of Emin’s appliquéd blankets.  Twelve of them have been brought together for this exhibition (I think it might be the first time they have been displayed together, but I could be wrong) and there is another elsewhere in the exhibition.  They looked stunning all together like this; they’re more intricate than they seem on first glance, containing lots of smaller written patches that you really need to spend some time reading to be able to appreciate the blankets as a whole.  I was lucky to be able to earwig into a guided tour round the exhibition by one of the curators in this room too!

The exhibition contains work from all of the media that Emin is best known for; textiles, monoprints, drawings, sculpture, painting, neon lights and video.  Her writing also plays a big part in this exhibition which made me realise how important it is to all her work and I made time to read most of it.  It was worth it, her writing is just like her visual art; personal, to the point, touching and really makes you think.

I spent much of my time in the exhibition watching the videos, especially “Why I never became a dancer” and “How it feels”, also immersing myself in the recreation of an exhibition she had in 2003 called “Menphis” in its own little room set it was like stepping into another world.

I feel that Tracey Emin has often received a bad press, labeled as uncouth or “simply” a feminist artist or just too obvious, but nothing could be further from the truth.  For me her work is touching, personal, both ‘in your face’ and subtle, but to fully appreciate all of it you have to invest a lot of time and really look at it.

All-in-all well worth a visit in my humble opinion.  Emin is a great storyteller and isn’t that what we’re all constantly looking for as human’s – a story in everything?

If you’re in London you still have time to see the exhibition, it’s on until the 29th of August.  Go see it.  You won’t regret it.

5 responses to “Tracey Emin “Love is What You Want”

  1. Yes i really did its moving she has a great writing voice, i’d read it again a few times over if i had the time. If you don’t mind lending i’ll borrow the independent book after you. I was more relocated away from the Hayward show as she is going to do a big show in the Turner, Margate shortly – home turf should be worth a stop over in Kent definately.
    Bon hols


    • A Margate show – got to see that!
      Course you can borrow the other book. I opened it up when it came out of its packaging and read one of the entries there and then standing in the middle of my front room. Bodes well.


  2. I was toying with the idea of going to this and had a mixed reveiw i am now going to go and if you haven’t read it already read Strangeland by Tracey Emin – i’ll lend you if you want.


    • Well I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s taste, but I really enjoyed it – hope you do too!! Thanks for the book loan offer, but after visiting the exhibition I bought Strangelands (which had been on my to read list for too long) on Amazon along with My Life In a Column – her collected pieces for the Independent. I’m anticipating their delivery as we speak!!


    • ps. they’ve just arrived, yippee just in time for my holidays! Did you enjoy Strangelands?


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