Wherever Tracey Emin goes, talk is sure to follow. After all, when you’re an artist who enjoys a fair amount of celebrity and controversy—and no, we’re not talking about James Franco donning a prosthetic penis on his face—each new creation holds the promise of something shocking and sublime. And when you’re part of the notorious Young British Artists movement of the 90s and your Turner-nominated installation included the use of bloodied underwear and used rubbers, multiply this rule by a hundred.
So it’s no wonder that Emin’s collaboration with Selfridges London, Walking Around My World, is telling—in more ways than one. Linda Hewson, creative director of the retail giant, told Hint how Emin was at the Oxford Street location, promoting the collaboration, when the particularly loud PA system decided to make her presence known to shoppers. “[Tracey] was just being interviewed by a national newspaper when she burst out laughing and turned bright red. Her team told us it was the first time they’d ever seen her blush!”
Walking Around My World is a surprisingly sweet offering from an artist whose work has always been predisposed to a dark, often acerbic candor. Held in the store’s Wonder Room, the pop-up shop is a gallery of personal and personalized objects, such as a pet bowl with a sketch of Emin’s beloved cat, Docket. The selection includes homewares, books, and assorted objects, each handpicked by Emin from Selfridges items and products from her own print company, Emin International. “It’s a tour of some of the things Tracey holds dear to her,” says Hewson, “and it gives a greater insight into some of her interests outside the art world, which many people won’t have seen before. Most of her selections were quite a surprise to us!“
Also on display at the launch was another of Emin’s prized creations, her recently published book, My Life In a Column, a compilation of articles she’s written as a weekly contributor to the Independent from 2005 to 2009. Wry, perceptive, and heartbreakingly funny at times, Emin’s columns spanned everything from spring-cleaning tips to her experiences growing up in Croydon, South London. A sample: “It’s very difficult to make work when I’m happy. But as I get older I realize this is something I have to try to understand and not fight against…Before, if someone had asked me: ‘Tracey, are you happy?’ the answer would have been: ‘Out of 10, four.’ Today if you’d asked me, the answer would be seven, and I can see a nine just round the corner.”
Walking Around My World, Wonder Room, Selfridges London, through July 31, 2011.