Tracey Emin's pride at Margate's Turner Contemporary

Tracey Emin at the gallery Artist Tracey Emin said the Turner Contemporary would help regenerate Margate

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Artist Tracey Emin has spoken of her pride as Margate's Turner Contemporary gallery prepares to open its doors.

The £17.5m seafront gallery, which celebrates the painter JMW Turner's links with the town, opens to the public on Saturday.

Speaking at a press preview, Emin, who grew up in the town, said she was "thrilled" at the prospect of improving the area.

Gallery director Victoria Pomery said she was "absolutely over the moon".

'Sad decline'

Emin said: "It's not going to do a lot just for this town, it's going to do a lot for art, a lot for Britain and it's going to do a lot for south-east England."

The glass and concrete building is situated on the site of a guesthouse that Turner often stayed in, offering panoramic views of the sea.

It was designed by architect David Chipperfield and inspired by the artist's fascination with light.

The gallery is to be opened by Emin along with musician Jools Holland, who lives nearby, and a group of local schoolchildren.

Mike Hill, the cabinet member for communities at Kent County Council, said: "Margate and Thanet have had a great history but in the last few years they have been in sad decline like many, many of our seaside towns.

"But we're trying to reverse that, and it can be done."

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