Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Love is What You Want

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable day in London yesterday with my friend Catherina. We met to go and see the Tracey Emin exhibition, Love is What You Want at the Hayward Gallery. I am aware that Tracey Emin is not everyone's cup of tea  but I do believe opinions are often formed from what is gleaned from the tabloid press rather than from a knowledge of the woman and her art. It is often difficult to see beyond the grotesque celebrity status afforded to her (and admittedly also courted by her) in the media. But I found the exhibition to be diverse, interesting, poignant and witty. I didn't like or understand everything I saw but I did enjoy an awful lot of it.


Her range of media is extraordinarily diverse, ranging from neon signs, photography, film, embroidery, applique, painting and drawing but the linking thread is her storytelling. Emin is a prolific and often entertaining writer. Her writing is intimate, autobiographical and intensely personal but touches on those human experiences that we can all relate to.


Her drawings appear everywhere and are quite beautiful and sensitive. She draws most often through the medium of monoprinting which adds a quality of spontaneity to the work. There were also some stunning very large scale drawings worked in embroidery which I hadn't seen before that I found quite breathtaking.


There were two walls covered with her appliqued blankets and these were stunning to see close up. Again text and words are central to all these works - they are like oversized diary pages. For me, one of the most exciting things about Tracey Emin's art is how she uses textiles and embroidery just like she would any other media, elevating it from a position of feminine domestic craft to one of fine art. We wouldn't think to call her a "Textile Artist"


There is no doubt her work is often provocative and controversial but it has enormous integrity and I can admire her for that alone. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and at times extraordinarily moving exhibition.

15 comments:

  1. Oh I so want to go to this exhibition. C and I were looking at the posters for it on the tube yesterday.

    I've seen quite a bit of her work in collective exhibitions and always love the quirky storytelling in her pieces. But I've never seen a whole exhibition of her work and I'd love to.

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  2. Clearly a thought provoking exhibiton that you enjoyed and have made me consider the way we form our opinions.

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  3. I thoroughly agree with your observations, Gina. It is a very thought provoking exhibition. Tracy let us into her world, sharing her personal intimate experiences in a visual exciting and sometimes shocking way. However looking up close to the hand stitches, used in the blankets and the large embroidered drawings you can see the love, vulnerability and the therapy and comfort expressed in the stitch. Looking beyond her words and explicit drawings is a woman who have used stitch and textiles to mend her own wounds. Thanks Gina for a wonderful day of sharing. Catherina x

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  4. What a coincidence you were in London yesterday - you didn't come home via Tottenham with any plasma TVs/sofas/shell suits, did you?

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  5. Jude beat me to it... I was going to ask if you had brand spanking new trainers! ;O) Joking aside, the exhibition looks wonderful. I have always liked her work. The neon stuff looks brilliant, as do her drawings..............

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  6. It is so interesting to read this post - I'm going on Monday with some other bloggers (riots permitting) and I'm really looking forward to it. Did you book the tickets in advance or just turn up?

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  7. You echo my feelings about Tracy Emin exactly. Some of her drawing is absolutely stunning.

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  8. Fascinating post Gina - a real eye-opener. Thankyou for sharing your observations with us.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this Gina. It's good to know more about this special artist. I cannot pretend to like or understand all of her work but I know there is much more to her than the press present.

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  10. Sounds like a fascinating and thought provoking day Gina. Good exhibitions should do that and it's always good to have our assumptions trumped sometimes. I've read quite a few reviews of this exhibition and the consensus has been on the positive. Too far for me to get to but very interesting to get another viewpoint.

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  11. Thank you Gina for wise words and interesting. I'm always a bit wary of Tracey, yet as you say, most of what we know about her is half baked journalistic opinions. I'll think again. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  12. What a great insight into an artist we all think we know through what we read and see in the press. It's so interesting to see her work from a different perspective.

    xxx

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  13. The media always try to get a loopy angle on artists work I think don't they? Some of Emin's stuff is lovely and she is very talented indeed.
    I have just posted my potato prints without the potatoes, on my blog :)
    twiggy x

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  14. Very interesting Gina -- I've never heard of her. Love that neon sign and the quilt looks like one that would be fun to "read". Glad you were safe in London!

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  15. I had thought of Tracey Emin as a textiles artist but more as an artist who uses textiles within mixed media. Some artist are defined by the medium they use, its what has drawn them to the art. does that make sense? an exhibition I would love to see.

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