Tracey Emin says 'art is for everyone not just elite' as she collects CBE

 

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.

Speaking after receiving the honour during a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony hosted by the Princess Royal, she said: "It's amazing that I've been given this because it's recognition for what I believe in and what I've worked for, so it's a great feeling."

She added: "I think that art's for everybody and everybody's entitled to the best culture, the best literature, the best education, the best that everyone can have."

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.

Asked to name her favourite piece, she replied with a laugh: "My bed, definitely," and said it was recently exhibited in Frankfurt.

She said: "Every time it's shown I have to re-do it - very strange. Things have changed, I'll never make a bed like that again."

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.

She said: "Art's really moved on and it's really important that it's taught in schools and it's really important it's part of our culture. I always say culture is like the soul of any country of any nation.

"Also I'm a woman, and art is very much a man's world so I feel very privileged that I've got this far, and I had a very ordinary secondary education, I left school when I was very young, so it shows hard work does prevail."

She added: "This isn't about what you do in the day job, it's what you do beyond that. A lot of people work really hard but they're not made a Commander (like me).

"There are lots of amazing artists but you have to do that little bit more."

PA

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