Tracey Emin brings new exhibition home to Margate

By Sue Nicholson
BBC News

image captionTracey Emin's exhibition explore the themes of love, sex and romanticism and features new works, including drawings, sculptures and tapestries

"You can take the girl out of Margate but you can't take Margate out of the girl," the acclaimed artist Tracey Emin famously uttered.

She spent her childhood in the Kent seaside resort, with the town providing inspiration for many of her later artworks.

Two years ago, the former Turner Prize nominee even created a "love letter" for Margate, installing a pink neon sign with the words I Never Stopped Loving You in her own handwriting on the facade of a seafront building.

Now she has returned to the town once again, with an exhibition of new works at the Turner Contemporary, the art gallery which she opened just over a year ago.

'Wildest dreams'

image captionTracey Emin has made no secret of her love for her hometown of Margate

She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea is her first exhibition there and has been conceived especially for the town.

It explores the themes of love, sex and romanticism, with new works, which include drawings, monoprints, sculptures, tapestries, embroideries and neons.

The central themes for the exhibition - exploring female sexuality - are explored in paintings, sketches and watercolours by Emin, JMW Turner and Auguste Rodin, whose famed sculpture The Kiss has been on show at the gallery since October.

Emin, 48, said she was excited to be back in Margate, adding: "Even in my wildest dreams I could never believe there would be a gallery like Turner Contemporary there.

"So on one level I'm really chuffed and excited but on another I am as nervous as hell."

She also revealed that she had written to every resident in Margate to ask them to view the show.

Victoria Pomery, director of the Turner Contemporary, said most of the work had been produced by Emin in the past eight months and was completely unseen.

"It's a very intimate show, referencing herself... I think there's lots of work that will get people talking," she said.

"I think we should really celebrate Tracey's contribution, not only to culture in this country but really to embracing a town such as Margate, which she does over and over again."

The £17.5m Turner Contemporary, which celebrates the painter JMW Turner's links with Margate, opened last April.

Visitor numbers were three times higher than expected in its first year, with 500,000 people passing through its doors.

The figures have proved a boost to plans to regenerate the town, with shops reporting higher takings and estate agents reporting a surge in the number of people thinking of moving to the area.

image captionThousands of people have passed through the doors of the Turner Contemporary since it opened last year

Emin recently said that when she thought of home, she always thought of Margate.

"It really draws you. It really pulls you back. And it is very romantic," she said.

Ahead of the opening of her exhibition, she added: "The brilliant thing about Margate is it's one hour from London on the train so I'm hoping lots of people will come and visit not just my show but the beautiful sunsets and sandy beaches."

Councillor Iris Johnston, cabinet member for tourism at Thanet District Council, said the gallery was a testament to Margate's regeneration.

"I'm thrilled that this iconic building is celebrating in style with Tracey Emin's homecoming exhibition.

"Everyone in Thanet should feel justifiably proud of the Turner Contemporary, and it's wonderful that Tracey - an internationally recognised artist - has given such passionate support," she said.

The exhibition, which runs until 23 September, is part of the London 2012 Festival , a 12-week nationwide celebration of arts events running parallel to the Olympics.

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