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  • She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea, installation view at Turner Contemporary Photo Stephen White
On Saturday 26 May, Tracey Emin's eagerly awaited homecoming exhibition opened at Turner Contemporary. Crowds flocked to the opening, as did the arts press.

Featuring new work, most of which has been created within the last 8 months, the show presents a departure for Emin, who nearing the age of 50 and as new Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy, has been exploring themes that resonate with her now, not from the time which she grew up in Margate.

The exhibition is part of the London 2012 Festival and Tracey is one of the torch bearers for Margate when it arrives on 19 July.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival says of the exhibition:
'Tracey Emin’s first major exhibition in her home town of Margate at the wonderful new Turner Contemporary gallery is precisely the kind of once-in-a-lifetime event that is the special characteristic of the London 2012 Festival. We are delighted that the exhibition is free so that everybody will have the chance to join in something  they may never experience again. We want this to be a summer of unforgettable art as well as sport.'

This is what the papers have been saying:

Jackie Wullschlager, Traces of Tracey Financial Times  
'Margate’s sympathetic installation across three galleries gives maximum force.'

'The bright, sea-facing room contains blue gouaches... are the most beautiful things Emin has done – spare, light, unpretentious.'

'The flowing, looping outlines of fragile figures on white grounds suggest now turbulence or alarm, now ecstasy but always – as implied by the show’s title and helped by the view of the sea – a sense of the body overwhelmed by tidal waves of feeling.'

'...her tenacity and spirit of survival impress.'

'...the juxtaposition [with Turner and Rodin] is also a triumph for the democratisation of art, the breakdown of class and regional/metropolitan barriers, which Emin by her life-as-performance has helped effect in the past two decades.'

'The great thing about Margate’s show is that it is taking place here at all.'

 Waldermar Januszczak, Home is where the art is, The Sunday Times 
'...this particular show is the most beautiful I have seen by her'

'Gone is the anger. Gone is the man-bashing. In their place, an air of wistful nostalgia seems to have seeped into her art. Where previously it was Margate’s darknesses and cruelty she remembered, here she seems to be reliving the nice bits. The sensuous experience of making love. The good side of having a boyfriend. '

'Some of this softening should probably be understood as a reaction to the sheer beauty of these exquisite exhibition spaces. Designed by the immaculately progressive David Chipperfield, Turner Contemporary is prob­ably the most elegant gallery interior in Britain right now.'

'When you look out of the ­windows, all you can see is the sea, rolling and encompassing. 
It’s a beautiful effect, and the proximity of the lapping water seems to have inspired a set 
of gentle reflections in Emin, on love and blokes and paddling.'

'That scratchy touch of Emin’s, light as a sparrow, fragile as a chicken bone, dominates all these effects, and I fancy this will be recognised as the event at which Dame Tracey Emin, staunch defender of the artist’s touch, stepped fully out of the closet.'

'I have never seen Turner’s erotic drawings before. They are surprisingly steamy, and easily the most shocking exhibits here.' 

Charles Darwent, The Independent *****
'What is moving about Emin's show, She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea, is its sense of resolution, the way that parts of her art that have until now seemed disjointed and sporadic suddenly come together.'

'Emin certainly can draw: the series that includes the blue-on-blue Reading My Thoughts has the assurance of Matisse'

'...the show is one of the must see events for the summer.'

'These works show Emin’s fascination with classical art and historical references from cave paintings to Picasso, Matisse, Turner and Rodin fill the works in the whole show and give more credence to her place in art history. Despite any shortcomings the show is one of the must see events for the summer.'

Ben Luke, The Evening Standard ***
'While torment clearly lies beneath, Margate's most famous daughter seems to have 
let go of the usual tales of trauma, opening this show with a serenity befitting its glorious location.'

'Turner Contemporary’s wonderful galleries bathe art in glorious daylight, and in response Emin has created a rhapsody in blue on white, with a series of gouache drawings and embroideries on calico.'
'When Emin is more measured, in scaling up her drawings into elegant appliqué, she produces her best work. The meditative act of sewing gives a greater sense of design, without diminishing the emotion.'

The Arts Desk

Tracey Emin's Hope for Margate resurrection
, The Guardian

'I'm nervous as hell'
 Tracey Emin interview with ArtInfo

Tracey on the BBC Andrew Marr Show
, 27 May 2012 (go to 23.27 mins)

Kirsty Lang talks to Tracey Emin, BBC Radio 4 Front Row, 25 May 2012 (go to 1.30min)


ITV News

The Mirror

Kent Online

The Guardian interview

The Spectator

Find out more
You can read more about the exhibition here, essays by critic Bill Feaver and Jeanett Winterson in our catalogue and hear Tracey speak directly about her work on our interactive media guide, all available when visiting the gallery.
Posted by: Turner Contemporary on Mon 28 May 2012