Tracey Emin Is Leaving London for a Bigger Studio in Kent

Emin feels unwelcome in the capital, after her proposal to build a new studio was rejected.

Tracey Emin at an exhibition of her work at White Cube Gallery in London in 2014. Photo courtesy Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Tracey Emin has decided to join the mass exodus of artists out of London and into the British countryside, following the city’s rejection of her plans to build a David Chipperfield-designed, live-work space in East London.

In contrast to smaller-scale artists who are increasingly priced out of London, Emin feels unwelcome due to the city’s rejection of her proposal to raze a listed building to build a large live/work space, the Guardian reports.

The proposed five-story complex was to house a studio, showroom, and home, and to connect to her existing studio in Spitalfields. But it required the demolition of a 1920s-era complex at 66-68 Bell Lane, with is part of the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

When she submitted the proposal in July 2015, local residents and officials met it with resistance. Critics were disappointed in the artist, who once championed the preservation of historic East London.

The proposal was officially rejected last week.

The recent death of her mother also plays a part in her change of plans. She tells the Guardian that she is “in a vulnerable place right now,” and would rather redirect her energy to finding a studio “in a place that’s desperate for artists,” citing town on the Kent coast like Margate, Folkestone, and Hastings. The area is highly significant for the artist, as she grew up in Margate and studied in Maidstone.

She questions rhetorically, “Why would you want to be somewhere you’re not wanted?”

Her existing studio is described as spacious, but the artist insists, “It does feel like a huge amount of space but I can assure you it’s not, especially compared to some of my male counterparts.”

“I’m an international artist who hasn’t got enough room to swing a cat at the moment,” she says.

She continues to say that she has felt “bullied” by the debate surrounding her proposal, and will move out of London while maintaining her current properties.

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