Tracey Emin, one of Britain’s best known contemporary artists, declared today that art should be for everyone and not just for the elite as she was made a CBE.
Once one of the leading lights of the group dubbed the Young British Artists, she is now a member of the establishment having been made professor of drawing at the prestigious Royal Academy.
But Emin is still deeply committed to her work and encourages a wider interest in the arts, promoting it in her hometown of Margate where she had a major exhibition at the Turner Contemporary gallery last year.
The artist first made an impression on the public in 1997 with a drunken appearance on a television discussion show about the Turner Prize which ended with her pulling her microphone off and telling the audience “I’ve had a really good night out.”
Two years later, she was shortlisted for the prize and exhibited one of her most famous works, My Bed, at the Tate Gallery.
The unmade bed, littered with condoms, cigarette packets and a pair of knickers divided the critics but began the process of making her one of the country’s most famous living artists.
Her work sells for high prices around the world and one piece – a neon sign reading More Passion – was installed in Downing Street.
At the height of her notoriety, posters she put up near her east London home appealing for the return of her cat were being torn down and reportedly sold for hundreds of pounds.
Emin said her work was now taught in schools and described how once when a group of children on a school trip in central London recognised her they began chanting her name.