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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'