Tracey Emin wants to “live forward” after bladder cancer diagnosis

Robert Dex
·3-min read
Tracey Emin at her new Royal Academy show (David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts)
Tracey Emin at her new Royal Academy show (David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts)

TRACEY Emin says she is ready to “live forward” after her cancer diagnosis and will start work again soon.

The artist, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in June and underwent major surgery in July, was speaking as she unveiled her latest show.

Emin, whose often painful personal life has always been reflected in her work, said she wanted to “guard” herself from some of her most traumatic experiences.

She told the Evening Standard: “I think if you constantly keep going back into time and in a really deep way it’s just eating you up.

“It’s like post traumatic stress syndrome they just recently found out it’s not good for soldiers to go back and go back into every detail and relive these horrible memories it’s much better to go forward and live forward and that’s what I want to do.

“I have to find a way to go forward but it’s really hard.”

<p>Tracey Emin’s new show at the Royal Academy</p>David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts

Tracey Emin’s new show at the Royal Academy

David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts

Emin said her treatment had left her “healthyish” and she intends to start work early next year.

She said: “Hopefully about mid February. “You’re not supposed to work for six months, carrying heavy machinery, drive, fly, millions of things.

“So I’m not doing any of those things.”

Her new Royal Academy show, The Loneliness of the Soul, pairs her paintings and sculptures with work by her “favourite artist” Edvard Munch.

She said she has loved the Norwegian painter, best known for his iconic Scream portrait, since she was 17 when she began to read about 20th century artists working between the wars.

She said: “It was just so different.

“It wasn’t all about the war, it wasn’t all about that kind of pain, it was purely about the pain of being human that anybody could relate to for any reason and I related to it at a very young age.”

Planning for the show began in 2017 and included a lengthy visit to the Munch Museum and the painters home in rural Norway.

<p>Tracey Emin’s new show at the Royal Academy</p>David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts

Tracey Emin’s new show at the Royal Academy

David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts

Emin said at one point the archivist who was showing her a series of his watercolours had to whip the fragile canvases away because she burst into tears over them.

She said: “I started crying because it was so emotional and as I was crying these tears were just going down and they were like ‘Oh my god and had to pull them away’.

She said she felt the presence of the long dead artist as she worked in his home.

She said:“It was a really wonderful thing and there were a few things that happened you wouldn’t expect.

“We were looking at some of his clothes and his things inside a box and there was a hat inside and it moved.

“That was really brilliant and a door closed on its own which was really great

“It was like Munch is here, Munch is in the room so it was really exciting it was like an adventure.”

:: The show at the Royal Academy runs until February 28.

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