British artist Tracey Emin has revealed that she’s demanded the return of an artwork she gifted to David Cameron in 2011 in protest at the ‘shameful’ current Government.
The 58-year-old artist told her 79,000 followers on Instagram that she’s asked for ‘More Passion’, a piece in her trademark neon style, to be removed from the Government Art Collection.
Emin, who was given the all-clear from bladder cancer last year, told her followers that she was no longer happy for her work to be associated with Boris Johnson’s party following weeks of allegations of Downing Street staff parties during lockdown.
She wrote: ‘This is my neon that hangs at 10 Downing Street. It was a gift from myself to the Government Art collection. I am now in the process of requesting that my art work be removed from 10 Downing Street.
The red neon sign, which spells out ‘More Passion’ in glowing letters, was said to be worth £250,000 when it was made in 2010.
Margate-based artist Tracey Emin told her Instagram followers on Wednesday that she’s requested the return of a neon artwork ‘More Passion’ from the Government Art Collection
The piece currently hangs in Downing StrOeet but Emin, 58, said she’s now requested its return, saying: ‘This current situation is shameful’ and ‘More Passion is the last thing this present government needs’
The artist, who shot to fame in 1995 with her work ‘Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995’ added: ‘I feel More Passion is the last thing this present government needs. This current situation is shameful.’
The coral pink artwork, listed as a sculpture on the Artuk.org website, measures 112cm by 46cm.
It was gifted to the Government collection in 2011 when the coalition, led by David Cameron as Prime Minister and Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister came into power.
The Government Art Collection is officially housed in the Old Admiralty Building in central London but ex Prime Minister David Cameron – said to be a fan of the BritArt star – chose to hang the eye-catching piece outside the Terracotta Room on the first floor of the government headquarters.
David Cameron, pictured with wife Samantha Cameron entering Downing Street in 2010, was thought to be a fan of the BritArt artist and hung the neon work in Number 10’s Terracotta Room
When Emin first bestowed the piece, it ruffled Whitehall feathers, with one source telling the Sunday Mirror at the time: ‘It has the very definite effect of making the Terracotta Room look like a nightclub.
‘It is very bright. That is heightened by the fact that the entrance hallway it faces on to is quite dark.’
When the artist donated it she said the work had ‘to be something that will relate to different people on different levels because of all the dignitaries and world leaders and religious groups who go to No 10 so it has to be something that’s fitting for that situation.’
The 58-year-old was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2020 after discovering a tumour in her bladder while working on a painting of a malignant lump
Her other trademark neons spell out words with heartfelt messages including ‘Keep Me Safe’ and ‘I Promise To Love You.’
In 2018, Emin’s ‘anti-Brexit’ neon artwork, in the form of an 18-metre line of handwriting, was hung at London’s St Pancras Station. The artwork reads: ‘I want my time with you’ and is suspended from the ceiling in front of the station’s clock.
In early 2020, Emin discovered a tumour in her bladder while working on a painting of a malignant lump in early 2020.
The artist was suffering with very aggressive squamous cell cancer, which surgeons feared would kill her in months if it spread to her lymph nodes.
The artist revealed that ‘love’ rather than art saved her following bladder cancer battle after she fell for someone shortly before her diagnosis (Pictured at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, in September 2017)
As a result, a decision was made to remove not only her bladder but also her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, lymph nodes, urethra and part of her colon and vagina.
Prior to the surgery, the artist said she stayed up for 24 hours with her solicitor rewriting her will before sending an email to 70 friends breaking the news of her cancer and instructing them: ‘Do not contact me’.
She previously told Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour that after recent scans showed she’s free of cancer, she’s now focused on enjoying life, despite suffering from chronic pain and wearing a stoma bag.
Highlights of Tracey Emin’s career
1995, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-95: This piece first brought Tracey Emin to wider fame, both in the art world and among the general public
1999, My Bed: The piece is Emin’s record of several days spent in bed in the grip of depression. The bed is unmade and the sheets are stained. All around are strewn a variety of items such as condoms, contraceptive pills, underwear stained with menstrual blood, money, and cigarette ends. The work was nominated for the Turner prize in 1999 and received a hugely mixed response from the public and press
2001, The Perfect Place to Grow: This work pays homage to the artist’s Turkish Cypriot father who, she says, is a fantastic gardener but a terrible carpenter. It consists of a wooden birdhouse-like structure on wooden stilts
2004, Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing: This appliquéd blanket work is a blistering attack Margaret Thatcher, and her participation in the Falklands War of 1982
2011, I Promise To Love You: In the 2000s, Emin began working extensively with neon lighting. These works feature words and phrases in her handwriting. Pictured, 2011’s neon sculpture I Promise To Love You
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