Tracey Emin: 'I've told Art to keep away. We're going to have a trial separation...'

My Life In A Column

Related Topics

This week Art has really left me. Even when I tried to hold its foot as it made its escape through the front door, and I screamed: "Art, don't leave me, I love you, I love you!" Art seemed to be going somewhere else, a place it could reside in a lot more comfort than inside my mind.

Art is as good to me as I am to it. And at the moment we seem to be arguing quite a lot. I want to hang on the side of creativity and Art wants to hang on the side of practice. I want to be a free spirit and paint mad love poems across the gallery walls, and Art wants me to slave and labour using every bit of knowledge I know, but I want to abandon everything I know. I need to be free. I need to be fresh. I don't want to be held by the restraints of my own language. Anyway, Art had enough this week and just walked out on me.

As it rolled out of my mind like a big, voluminous balloon I jumped out of bed and chased it down the stairs. Half of it escaped through my dressing room window; the rest floated down to the ground floor and tried to make a swift exit through the letterbox. This is where I caught it. This is when I started screaming. I was screaming with my frustration and the agony of being split in two minds over what I need and what I believe in with regard to Art.

I have some really big shows coming up and I wish so much that I didn't. There somehow is never enough time and it's always about a couple of months before a new show with new work that I begin to doubt myself immensely. I give myself a harder time than any critic would ever dream of giving me. And at the moment, my big question is integrity. Everyone is grappling around for money; everyone is desperate for it now. And I really don't want to be. On the other hand, I could be having an unhealthy reaction and cutting off my nose to spite my face. Career suicide. Oh, I long for the days when there was absolutely nothing to lose. But that's the kind of argument I've been having with Art. Art and everything I've worked for. My world, the mini world of Emin, dictates that there is a lot at stake but in reality: who actually gives a fuck?

Art did have a slight reprieve this week: I went to my friend Rebecca Warren's show at the Serpentine and I thought that it was really amazing. My only regret was seeing the work surrounded by so many people. But I've said this before: Art can't exist without the people. I wish that I were looking at her work really early in the morning, about 7am, when the first clear skies are there. I can imagine all her rough insane materials being filled with a total new entity of early light. I also imagined her working in her studio smiling as she picked up a piece of polystyrene and a piece of fluff and neatly wedged it into the crack of Perspex. I enjoy so much the freedom of her work. Her work is incredibly "Aphrodite at the Waterhole", as in the rebel Tony Hancock. True genius.

I even realised yesterday, whilst lying in bed all day long, why I drink a lot sometimes and dance like a lunatic, like I did on Monday night at Rebecca's party. One is to be celebratory, and the other is to really step outside of my own mind, the absolute desire to be free. As an artist, when you don't feel free, free with your ideas and your creativity, you feel suffocated. And the worst thing about this suffocation is that as you slowly start to become faint, nothing really matters, just your own breath. Everything you have made, invented, mastered, taught, learnt really does become so unimportant. And that is a very horrible feeling.

This week, I have far too much to do and I have far too much to do now. I have to condense a whole day's work within the next three hours. All I would like to do is play some really loud music, drink two bottles of red wine, and make some really wild paintings. It would be like a holiday. As I write this I can clearly imagine myself doing it. I want me back. Me the physical being doing what I should be doing, good or bad, following the correct trajectory, going up, not down.

Tomorrow, I have to go to Berne to install my 20 Years travelling charabang show. It will look good and it will look very different there.

But, again, I will be holding on to my own past, when what is so important for me at the moment is to be concentrating on my future. On a daily basis, time is being taken away from me. My head is in a state of scrambled flux.

I've told Art to keep away from me. We're going to have a 10-day trial separation. Hopefully, by the time I come back from Berne, Art will be happily re-ensconced in my heart and soul, as well as my mind.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own