Tracey Emin is setting up an artist studio space in Margate—but she has strict rules for artists hoping to apply

Artist also plans sculpture park and mini museum in English seaside hometown

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Tracey Emin says her non-profit foundation will establish a mini museum, artist studios, a sculpture park and a life-drawing club in her hometown of Margate, England. Photo: Guy Bell / Alamy Stock Photo

Tracey Emin says her non-profit foundation will establish a mini museum, artist studios, a sculpture park and a life-drawing club in her hometown of Margate, England. Photo: Guy Bell / Alamy Stock Photo

The artist Tracey Emin says she is setting up an artist studio complex in her hometown of Margate on England’s southeast coast. But the rules will be strict for artists keen to rent a space in the planned complex, including a possible ban on taking part-time jobs and “no loud music”.

In 2017, Emin bought a complex of buildings, measuring 30,000 sq. ft, in the old Thanet Press site near Margate’s waterfront that she says will be converted into a museum when she dies. This cluster of buildings houses a sculpture and painting studio, living accommodation, pool and archive spaces.

Emin now plans to convert a nearby compound—comprising former Victorian baths and a small mortuary—into a complex of 30 artists’ studios; this hub will eventually be turned into an art school called TKE studios (after Tracey Karima Emin). “People will have to apply, and there’ll be really strict rules. No sub-letting, no smoking, no loud music. And if people don’t want to do the rules then they won’t have a studio there,” Emin told the Times. “The other thing, because the rents are going to be so low, I’m not having people having part-time jobs and then never coming in. So, I’m setting it up so they... will have time to work and paint.”

The mortuary will become a “mini museum” filled with her own work. Emin also told the Financial Times that her non-profit foundation will establish a sculpture park and a life-drawing club so that “any kid in the area who wants to come in and learn to draw, can”. She also plans to launch an artist residency scheme at another location in the seaside town. “So it’s organically making the place right for the right people. I love art. And I love property. And this way I’m combining both my loves and doing a bit of good,” she said. Emin aims to get the studio project, mini museum and foundation “up and running [in the] next year”. 

In 2020, Emin was diagnosed with bladder cancer. “It was full-blown squamous cell cancer, and so aggressive that they couldn’t just remove the tumour”, she told the dealer Kenny Schachter. “Within three weeks they removed my bladder, my urethra, my lymph nodes, gave me a full hysterectomy and took out half of my vagina—so that was my summer, really.” Last April, doctors gave her the all-clear.

In a recent Instagram post, Emin says that she “hated 2021. It was a wicked year. Mean and unreasonable. I’m going into 22 with an attitude and plan to stamp and crush out that meanness… This year is going to be a big year for me. My desire to make life better has gone up ten fold… Tracey Karima Emin 2022.”

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