Tracey Emin: No 10 responds after artist demands work removed from Downing Street

Ms Emin says her artwork is for a party atmosphere and she really does ‘not feel that Number 10 needs any encouragement on this level’

Ellie Harrison
Thursday 20 January 2022 14:42
'I want my time with you': Tracey Emin unveils new artwork at St Pancras station

Downing Street has said it will speak to Tracey Emin following her demand to take down one of her artworks in Number 10.

“More Passion”, a neon piece by the Turner Prize-nominated artist, was installed in 2011 after being donated to the government Art Collection when David Cameron was prime minister.

However, Ms Emin has requested the piece be removed in protest at what she has described as “shameful” reports of parties at the residence during lockdown.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “My understanding is that the work was gifted to the government art collection with an agreement to initially display it in No 10.

“We will obviously now discuss the location of the work with the artist and I believe it will remain part of the government art collection that displays works in a number of locations.”

The government art collection displays works in 365 locations globally such as embassies and other major government buildings.

This week, Ms Emin claimed the government needed more “compassion” rather than the “party atmosphere” created by her neon artwork hanging in Downing Street.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Thursday 20 January that she objected to the fluorescent lighting, which is often associated with a festive feel, being hung where parties were reported to have taken place.

Boris Johnson

She told host Emma Barnett: “I don’t want the work back because I donated it.

“I would simply like at the moment for it to be taken down, because the neon is notoriously for a party atmosphere.

“You have them at funfairs, casinos, bars or whatever.

“I really do not feel that Number 10 needs any encouragement on this level.”

Ms Emin said she knew prime minister Boris Johnson enjoyed the artwork being in Number 10 because he had personally told her.

However, she added: “I want it taken down and this government, I will tell you what they need, they need compassion.

“That’s what they need, not passion.

“They don’t need more party atmosphere.

“Most of us are obeying the rules in every single way because this pandemic has affected everybody so terrible, whether it is financially, whether it was health-wise, people dying or whatever. And this government doesn’t seem to care about that…”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which administers the collection, said: “When an artwork comes into the government art collection, the collection can display the work at any of its 365 locations.

“On occasions the collection may consult with an artist when a work is going to a specific location.”

Ms Emin caused controversy in the art world when she declared herself a Conservative supporter but later criticised Mr Cameron over his decision to hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

The artist, 58, is known for her headline-grabbing Nineties works “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With” and “My Bed”.

Ms Emin was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer in 2020. In April last year, she announced that her cancer had gone following several major surgeries.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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