Sales of artwork inspired by cancer experiences are expected to contribute up to £700,000 for the Kent Town Artists’ Hub.
Tracey Emin was unable to paint for a year while undergoing treatment for bladder cancer, during which she believed she would pass away.
Then, in an act of release, she produced Like a Cloud of Blood, a very personal depiction of her experiences.
She explained the subject matter of the picture on Thursday. “I thought I’d keep it forever because I loved it.”
But Emin, a Royal Academician who first gained recognition as one of the Young British Artists of the 1980s, is selling the piece to generate money for her new Margate art school and artists’ center.
It is expected to bring in up to £700,000 at the auction house Christie’s next month, adding to the $2 million Emin has already invested on purchasing and renovating a derelict Edwardian bathhouse, morgue, and children’s daycare in the Kent coastal town where she was up.
Emin painted Like a Cloud of Blood to express her feelings about her recovery from cancer. Photograph: Christie’s Images Ltd
Her goal is to support budding and up-and-coming artists. Success in the arts is very unusual, particularly for women and people from my background. “The deck was stacked against me completely,” she said to the Guardian.
However, now that I have all I need and desire, I want to invest in Margate, art, and education.
15 artists, including painters, ceramicists, and sculptors, will have workspace in the new TKE Studios, which bear Tracey Karima Emin’s name. They all have fascinating histories, according to Emin.
“Developers are driving the majority of artists out of metropolitan cities. Margate embraces artists and their inventiveness.
The studios are spacious, light-filled, and feature heating and internet. They are also available 24 hours a day, and the artists pay a little fee for them.
Artists will pay modest rent for the generous, light-filled studios. Photograph: Elissa Cray
A bookstore offering “unusual books that you’d normally have to order” will be located there, along with an exhibition and event space. Emin promised to provide discussions, seminars, and movie screenings.
“It will be a hub. Art can be very isolating when you work alone. Lots of people work in studios for years without ever talking to anyone. Here people will exchange ideas, discuss their work.”
Up to 20 prospective artists will enroll in Emin’s 18-month program, which consists of a year of instruction and six months of performance preparation, in January. Online submissions start the next week.
She remarked, “The people coming to teach are phenomenal.” They include Jonathan Jones, the art critic for the Guardian, Rachel Whiteread, Vivienne Westwood, Jake Chapman, who will provide a talk on art and politics. They will get compensation in the form of an Emin painting rather than money.
Additionally, the students will hear presentations from curators, accountants, and picture framers. Without sound advise, “nobody is going to succeed,” stated Emin.
The studios, open 24-hours a day, will have heating and wifi. Photograph: Elissa Cray
Students will not be charged for tuition or studio space, but they will be required to pay for their own living costs. However, Margate is far less expensive than London for art students, according to Emin.
“When I was ill, and I thought I was going to die, I thought: what am I here for, what’s it all about? If one person here makes it as an artist, then I’ve done my job.”
In 2017, Emin moved back to Margate, where she now maintains her own studios not far from the TKE Studios. “I returned to Margate as a new person and found a different Margate. There is no pretense here; everyone gives me their space.
In recent years, the town has seen a rebirth as a result of an inflow of individuals leaving London in pursuit of more affordable housing and a laid-back lifestyle. A number of smaller galleries, antique stores, boutique hotels, and trendy cafés and restaurants have drawn tourists and new residents since the seaside Turner Contemporary art gallery opened in 2011.
Emin received honorary freewoman status in the municipality of Margate last month in appreciation for her contributions to the arts and to Margate.
In 2020, she had surgery for bladder cancer, during which her bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, part of her colon, urethra, and a portion of her vagina were removed. After a recent scan, she was declared clean.
Thanks to Harriet Sherwood at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.