Between the condoms by the notorious bed to the film about abortion, childlessness has emerged as a major theme in the work of Tracey Emin.
As if she has traded creative fecundity for motherhood, her prolific art has more in common with masturbation rather than procreation. She sketches the former activity at length.
In a photographic work I’ve Got It All, the artist can even be found scooping cash up into her crotch, but unlike Danaë her visit from a shower of gold results in nothing.
But since Emin practices a form of gesamtkunstwerk, allowing biography to become part of the art, her maternal status is all important.
The chances are we might not have allowed this working-class, female artist to have it all. To be rich, powerful, famous, okay. But a mother as well? It might have put the nation off.
Most celebrities get away with having babies and indeed so do many artists. But Emin would appear to be a romantic and likes to advertise a bit of suffering along with the stellar career.
For that reason, her contribution to a new book by Faber is touching. The publishers have been asking the great and the good for answers to common kids’ questions.
Emin was asked: What should you do when you can’t think what to draw or paint? The following is her answer, for the benefit of other people‘s children:
I often find I can’t make art. At times like this I go and do something else. I usually go partying, play dominoes, go out to eat, or swim, take long walks, go shopping – all the normal things.
I wake up most nights between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and stay awake for around two to three hours. That’s when I would most like to work but I can’t because even though I am awake I am not awake enough to get dressed and go to my studio. But now I have an app on my iPad that lets me draw. The drawings are very different from my usual style because I do them with my finger and I am still a little sleepy so the drawings come from another part of my brain. Also they are very throwaway, so I feel freer.
Reading and swimming are the best things for me to do because the swimming physically makes me happier, and my brain starts working. And the reading fills me with other people’s images in my mind, which releases me from stress.
I need to make and create art – I’m an artist. Without creating my life makes no sense, I lose confidence and sort of forget who I am.
See below for infographic for Big Questions From Little People by Faber and Faber: What Big Questions are on Your Child’s Mind?