Tracey Emin to Auction Works to Fund Margate Studios for Emerging Artists

For a year during treatment for bladder cancer, in which she thought she would die, Tracey Emin was unable to paint.

Then, in a release of energy and emotion, he created Like a Cloud of Blood, a deeply intimate depiction of his experiences.

The painting was about recovery, he said Thursday. “I loved it and thought I would keep it forever.”

But Emin, who rose to fame as one of Britain’s young artists of the 1980s and is now a royal academic, is selling the work to raise money for her new art school and artists’ center in Margate.

Christie’s, the auction house handling next month’s sale, estimates it will fetch up to £700,000, adding to the £2 million Emin has already spent buying and renovating an old Edwardian bathhouse, mortuary and a nursery school in the Kentish seaside town where she grew up.

Its goal is to foster emerging and aspiring artists. “Being successful as an artist is something very rare, especially for a woman, especially for someone close to me. All the odds were stacked against me,” she told The Guardian.

“But now I have everything I need and want, and I want to invest in art, education and Margate.”

The new TKE Studios (named for Tracey Karima Emin) will provide workspace for 15 artists, including painters, potters and sculptors. “They all have interesting stories and backgrounds,” Emin said.

“Most of the artists in the big cities are being pushed out by developers. Margate welcomes artists and their creative energy.”

Artists will pay modest rent for the generous, light-filled studios, which will include heating and Wi-Fi and will be open 24 hours a day.

The space will include a bookstore that will sell “rare books that you would normally have to order,” and space for exhibitions and events. “We will have talks, conferences, film screenings,” Emin said.

“It will be a center. Art can be very isolating when you’re working alone. Many people work in studios for years without speaking to anyone. Here people will exchange ideas, discuss their work”.

In January, up to 20 aspiring artists will join Emin’s artist-in-residence scheme for an 18-month course, comprising one year of tuition and six months of preparation for a show. Online applications open next week.

“The people who come to teach are phenomenal,” he said. They include Jake Chapman, who will lecture on art and politics, Rachel Whiteread, Vivienne Westwood and The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones. Instead of a fee, they will be paid with a drawing of Emin.

Students will also attend talks by accountants, framers, and curators. “No one will make it without practical advice,” Emin said.

Students will not be charged for tuition or study space, but will have to finance their living expenses. “But being an art student in Margate is much cheaper than in London,” Emin said.

“When I was sick, and I thought I was going to die, I thought: what am I here for, what is it about? If one person here makes it as an artist, then I’ve done my job.”

Emin moved back to Margate in 2017 and works from his own studios near TKE Studios. “I came back to Margate a different person, and I came back to a different Margate. Here everyone gives me space, there is nothing pretentious here”.

The city has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with an influx of people moving from London in search of cheaper property and a more relaxed lifestyle. The waterfront Turner Contemporary art gallery opened in 2011, and a host of smaller galleries, vintage shops, boutique hotels, and trendy cafes and restaurants have attracted visitors and new residents.

Last month, Emin was named an honorary free woman of the city in recognition of her work as an artist and her investment in Margate.

She underwent surgery for bladder cancer in 2020, which involved removal of her bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, part of her colon, urethra, and part of her vagina. She was given the go-ahead after a recent scan.

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