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Margate: Tracey Emin My Bed artwork to go on display at Turner Contemporary in her hometown of Margate

There are no taboos at the Turner this autumn. Margate’s own Tracey Emin returns to the Turner Contemporary with her famous work, My Bed. 

Famously featuring her own bed, it gives a snapshot of her life after a traumatic relationship breakdown.

It provides an unconventional and uncompromising self-portrait through objects: the unmade bed – surrounded by used condoms, stained underwear, cigarette butts and empty vodka bottles.

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Tracey Emin at her exhibition Tracey Emin ‘My Bed’/JMW Turner. Photo: Stephen White, courtesy Turner Contemporary
Tracey Emin at her exhibition Tracey Emin ‘My Bed’/JMW Turner. Photo: Stephen White, courtesy Turner Contemporary

They marked a moment of epiphany in her life when, after spending over a week in bed drifting in and out of consciousness in an alcoholic haze, she came to a realisation.

She said: “I just suddenly thought, ‘This is horrific.’ And then it all turned around for me. It stopped being horrific and started being beautiful. Because I hadn’t died, had I?””

The artist launched the exhibition at the gallery today, when she also confirmed she will be returning to live and work in her home town.

She told a press conference: "Margate's already blossoming... Margate's really edgy... I feel like London's crushing me".

She hopes to be based in Margate and working in her new studio by next July.

Originally made in the artist’s Waterloo council flat in 1998 and included in her Turner Prize exhibition in 1999, the bed is on long-term loan to Tate following its purchase by a private collector in 2014.

Artist Tracey Emin
Artist Tracey Emin

The readymade installation is the height of her confessional, candid art where nothing is taboo, and represents a pivotal point in British art in which contemporary artworks achieved mainstream fame.

It has had a profound influence on art and wider culture – most people know of it, whether they have knowledge of the art world or not.

Of its display in her hometown, she said: “Out of all the places My Bed has been shown this is one of the most exciting and ambitious for me as I know the audience will be very discerning.”

Margate is the third location that My Bed has toured to, and shown alongside eminent painters, selected by Tracey.

In 2015 at Tate Britain – where it was originally shown as part of the Turner Prize exhibition in 1999 – it was shown alongside Francis Bacon. After Margate My Bed will be paired with works by William Blake at Tate Liverpool.

My Bed by Tracey Emin will be in Margate until January 14, 2018
My Bed by Tracey Emin will be in Margate until January 14, 2018

In Margate it will be displayed with a collection of JMW Turner’s seascapes and stormy skies, chosen by the artist and loaned from Tate’s collection.

Both artists are former residents of Margate – Turner returned regularly to the seaside town for its unique quality of light and skies, which he considered to be “the loveliest in all of Europe”.

Victoria Pomery, director of Turner Contemporary, said: “We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of My Bed and the responses it will spark. Ahead of the Turner Prize coming to Turner Contemporary in 2019, there couldn’t be a more pertinent moment to display this work.”

Turner Contemporary, Margate
Turner Contemporary, Margate


The new exhibitions open on Friday, October 13 and runs until Sunday, January 14, 2018.
Admission to Turner Contemporary is free and it is open from Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays 10am to 5pm.

Visit Turner Contemporary at Rendezvous, Margate, CT9 1HG, call 01843 233000, or visit turnercontemporary.org

How does your unmade bed compare to Tracey’s? We’re looking for your pictures ahead of the opening of the exhibition. Tweet us your pictures using the #mybed to @KMWhatsOn and @Kent_Online


This Autumn Turner Contemporary presents Arp: The Poetry of Forms, the first exhibition in a public gallery of Jean Arp’s work in the UK since his death in 1966.

The show is being staged with the Kröller-Müller Museum in The Netherlands. The landmark exhibition is made up of more than 70 works on loan, the majority of which have never been on display in the UK. As well as drawings, collages, paintings, wood reliefs and sculptures, the exhibition explores Arp’s poetry.

His role in Dada, surrealism and abstraction, as well as his impact on the British avant-garde, make his work as interesting to modern audiences as it was in the 60s.

The exhibition is curated by independent curator Frances Guy, working with Eric Robertson, professor of modern French literary and visual culture at Royal Holloway College, University of London and author of Arp: Painter, Poet, Sculptor.

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