5. Be Faithful To Your Dreams
Tracey Emin (UK)
Tracey Emin is one of Britain's most celebrated contemporary artists. Since the early 1990s, Emin has used her own life as inspiration for her art, exposing the most harrowing and intimate details of her personal history through needlework, sculpture, drawing, photography, painting, and of course neon.
Emin uses neon to illuminate emotions, memories, feelings and ideas in graphic messages, sentences and poems. While neon has its seedy connotations, Emin finds it sexy: 'It's spangly, it's pulsating. It's out there, it's vibrant.' Translating handwriting and drawings into blown and bent neon tubing presents technical challenges, and the choice of words or images is crucial: 'Not everything warrants being made in neon. It has to be specific. Neon is light, so, can you live with this thing glowing and the chemicals moving all the time?'
About the artist
Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. Sometimes confrontational or provocative, her work resonates with the 'personal political' legacy of feminist art. Disarmingly frank and yet often profoundly private, much of Emin's art is also animated by her playful and ironic wit.
She has exhibited extensively internationally, including solo and group exhibitions in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Japan, Australia, The United States and Chile. In 2008 Emin held her first major retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which subsequently toured to Malaga (2008) and Bern in 2009. In 2007 Emin represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale, was made a Royal Academician and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London, a Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and Doctor of Philosophy from London Metropolitan University. She lives and works in London. This summer, the Hayward Gallery presented LOVE IS WHAT YOU WANT, Emin's first major London survey show.
Image: 1998, Blue neon, 40.6 x 223.5 x 6.4 cm, Edition of 3, 2APs. © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2011.