I remember being on my Fine Arts Degree in 1998 and the lecturers organised a coach to take our year to the Tate in London. It was strange for me back then as I was coming from poverty, so while all the students around me were going out for meals and doing a lot of socialising. I was working in the evening as a cleaner and aiming to not get into too much debt. When I heard a free space on the couch, I decided to go and meet my friend at the other end.
It’s incredible how much a person does in their lives because other people are doing it. I was interested in this when I was a student, so I turned to the Tate as a young art student. Rather than following the crowd and going around the gallery very slowly. I decided I approach the whole thing by whizzing around, and if anything screamed out to me, ‘look at me – I would only stop then. I guess I was doing a scientific test in an away, lol.
Anyway, I stopped dead in front of a Tracy Emin piece named ‘My Bed’. I was amazed and struck by bringing in something from everyone’s everyday life and putting the object in a bare white room empty. You could make such a powerful statement and impression. It taught me the installation’s strength as an art medium, and I still, to this day, love an excellent installation.
‘My Bed’ was created in 1998 and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. It consisted of her bed with bedroom objects in a messy state and gained much media attention. Although it did not win the prize, its notoriety has persisted. It was sold at auction by Christie’s in July 2014 for £2,546,500.
Tracy Emin seems to be able to communicate so effectively with her intimacy and childlike quality. By doing this piece of art, I think, has helped us all, as humans, to look inwards into our lives in such a way that could make a person love themselves. It could also help us understand how we, as humans, are just gentle and fragile creatures. We live in such a competitive world, where we are continually bashing ourselves down and trying to be better than each other. Self-love and self-care are very much needed.
The bed focuses on Tracy Emin’s life. When you look at the bed, you may think I wouldn’t leave my bed in such a state, but I bet there have been times when you have. When you have been ill, or when you’re going through a break up in a relationship.
It’s such an intimate gesture to put into an art gallery. I think the fact she chooses subjects in her art that everyone can relate to. It Shows Tracy isn’t self-indulgent and absorbed with herself. I think, as an artist, this is healthy.
I had similar thoughts once when I was creating politically themed art. I realised if you get too absorbed into a subject, especially if it’s positively charged and can cause your emotions to get angry.
You can become self-consumed, self-obsessed and pretentious. I think as an artist when you are dealing with a particular heavy subject in your projects. The best way of dealing with them is with a sense of humour and a little bit of trickery and mischief.
It can also help the viewer of your art not to become involved in a heavy, slightly depressing way but to keep it light and entertaining. That’s what I think; if you want to discuss something seriously and constructively, why not write it as it’s far more upfront and educational or do a documentary.
Anyway, that conversation went off on a tangent. I hope you enjoyed my rambles, and please join my newsletter for more up to date posts and products I have for sale.