Tracey Emin: The artist once famed for her hedonism is turning over a new leaf as she hits 50


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The Independent Online

Love her or loathe her, there's no denying that Tracey Emin knows a thing or two about makeovers, transforming mundane objects such as unmade beds into Turner-nominated masterpieces. But now the artist is turning her attention to her biggest challenge yet: herself.

The one-time enfant terrible of the Brit Art scene wants to leave her hedonistic self behind as she rebrands herself three days before her 50th birthday as a workaholic. Emin has pledged to turn her back on her notorious ability to party and focus instead on her work for at least the next three decades.

"I'm prioritising all shows: stuff I previously would have said I couldn't physically do; now I'll say yes," she said. "I only want to go out one night a week and I want to try not to drink too much. I already wake up early, at about six in the morning, but I want to start working at that time, too. The next 30 years all I want to do is concentrate on work."

That work can often look like a homage to the morning after, what with that condom-strewn bed and a tent embroidered with the names of all the people she had ever slept with. But that was then.

"I've never had ambition, but it feels different now. Everything has culminated in this moment. Twenty years ago, I would have argued life is more important. I don't have any children, partners or lover; the main thing is my work. There's the realisation that I want to push it more; I want more of it."

Emin, who was brought up in Margate, is starting as she means to go on, showing two pieces in this week's "Do It 20 13" project at Manchester International Festival. She said a recent exhibition in New York was "the best show I have ever had in my life".

She put her new drive down to "turning 50; to do with the menopause; to being unloved; to being single; and self-preservation". She said: "When I'm old, I know where I'm going to be: working still, going up and down [my studio] in my lift. No one is going to be out there looking after me; only me."

She insists she is still an "individual thinker" who does not toe any one line. But she has thrown her weight behind the Conservatives. "David Cameron will always be remembered as the nice prime minister," she said. "His policies on single mothers, and this and that are brilliant, really good. If he was a Labour prime minister bringing in policies, so many people I know would be really behind him."