Tracey Emin describes her time as a homeless teenager

Artist Tracey Emin today described her experiences as a fearful homeless teenager.

Britart's bad girl - now a household name - said she had twice found herself in desperate need of a roof over her head in the years before she found fame and fortune.



Describing how she was left to fend for herself, she said: "When I was 17, I went home and there was no home."



She had no option but to move into temporary council accommodation in the seaside town of Margate, in Kent, for around nine months.



"I lived in a room that was about 10ft by 8ft, I had to wash in a bowl because the bathroom was so disgusting and dirty," she said.



"I lived in this room and I had to lock my door every night and I had to hide all my possessions and I was afraid and I was 17."



She said she found herself in a similar predicament six years later, at the age of 23.



Recalling her misery, she said: "I went every single day to Southwark Council and I sat in the council offices and I said 'please, I need somewhere to live, I need somewhere to live'.



"I sat there every day until they gave me a flat."



The London-based artist, now 46, was provided with accommodation in Waterloo.



"It was part of a community that really looked after me and it was amazing," she said.



Emin was addressing a crowd at the opening of Arlington House, a red-brick Victorian building in Camden, north London, which will provide supported housing and vocational opportunities for homeless people.



"The reason why I'm here isn't because I'm a great artist and isn't because I'm successful. The reason I'm here is because I've been homeless twice in my life," she said.



"It's not just about having a roof over your head - you need a community, you need to be looked after, you need a neighbour and security.



"I was taken care of," she added. "I will never forget that."



The artist was joined by London mayor Boris Johnson who stressed the importance of creating more affordable accommodation in the capital.



Setting out his ambition to end the problem of rough-sleeping by 2012, he added: "Frankly if this is London's answer to a doss house in 2010, then I think that is a great credit to London."



Praising the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, he added: "I was thrilled the other day to read a heart-warming tale in the paper of a single mother, of modest means, who was using the back room of a London restaurant for a start-up business which involved charging people half a million pounds for the privilege of talking to Prince Andrew. That is the dynamism, the 'can do' spirit of London, isn't it?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?