Published: 16:39, 27 April 2022
| Updated: 18:07, 27 April 2022
Iconic figures Kate Moss and Vivienne Westwood are among hundreds of people to have visited Tracey Emin's new exhibition in Kent.
The artist has unveiled her 'A Journey to Death' exhibition at the Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate, with the emotional work documenting her road to recovery from bladder cancer.
Some 800 people turned out for the launch event on Saturday and on Sunday people from all over the country were queueing around the block to see her new artwork.
Among those coming to the town were model Kate Moss and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, with her husband Andreas Kronthaler.
Robert Diament, director of Carl Freedman Gallery and a good friend of Emin, says it has been amazing to have such cultural leaders coming to Margate.
"Vivienne Westwood and Andreas came and also went to our print studio, Counter Editions," he said.
"She said it was amazing and she loved it. She said she couldn't believe all the artists that are here in Margate.
"She was so calm and kind and lovely, a really open person. And getting to meet Kate Moss as well was really iconic.
"Because the show was all made here during Tracey's recovery, I think people are really making an effort to see it. They realise we're so lucky to have Tracey here, healthy and alive, and with us.
"I said to Tracey the other day, it feels like she's at the beginning of her career again.
"She's in this amazing, very productive phase of her life and I think she's making some of the best work she's ever made and I'm really proud of her and excited. It feels like we're on this new adventure together which is fantastic."
Emin was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer in 2020 and underwent life-saving surgery which involved the removal of the tumour as well as her uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, part of her colon and her urethra.
"This exhibition is the first work she's publicly shown that she's made since her operation," said Mr Diament.
"The first room is full of a series of 10 self portraits of her face. It's a really intense kind of beginning to the exhibition and people have responded strongly to those.
"In the past few years, since she got sick, she has been painting her face, for the first time quite in-depth. Although not literal, she is very recognisable in some."
He says the rest of the work is monochrome pieces, made using silk screens, in which she would paint using printer's ink directly onto the screen before printing.
He says the exhibition has left some people in tears.
"These are obviously very turbulent times in her life that she's talking about and putting into pictures, but there's a calmness and serenity, positivity and hope, too, and that kind of runs through the show.
"So there are moments of real agony, but there's also the kind of joy and ecstasy.
"I think it's those kind of combined emotional states which resonates with people. People were actually crying at the exhibition.
"Tracy was talking about the title as well, A Journey to Death, being this journey that we're all on as humans. You're born and you're guaranteed that you will at some point die. And she doesn't really have a fear of that. It's part of all of our journeys."
He says people even turned up on the day the gallery was shut, so desperate to see the exhibition.
"It's such an amazing thing for Margate to have a show like this because it's all new work," he said.
"People literally travelled from Edinburgh, Bath, Leeds, Maidenhead and all over the UK to be here just to see that work.
"It's amazing this kind of loyal fan base she has - it was almost like a rock concert. We've never had that before."
The exhibition runs until June 19 at the gallery at 28 Union Crescent.
Opening times are Wednesday to Sunday, 12–6pm or by appointment. Entry is free.