Tracey Emin is not a crochet artist, per se. However, she is a fascinating artist with a huge body of work and every now and then crochet will be featured in that work. I like her art and the message behind it so I wanted to share more of that here.
More about Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin is a British artist associated with the group known as the Young British Artists, a group of visual artists who started showing their work in the late 1980’s. She has gained a lot of media attention and exposure for some of her more radical art, particularly a 1997 installation piece called “Everyone I Ever Slept With”. Her wild attitude have drawn her comparisons to wild girls like Amy Winehouse. Her work is collected by celebrities including George Michael and Elton John.
Tracey Emin’s Art
There seems to be almost no limit to the type of art that Tracey Emin will use to express herself. She draws and paints, does needlework and works with found objects. She has worked on films and written books. She is a prolific artist who tackles topics that not all artists are willing to take on – topics of female sexuality including the issues involved in how women view and treat other women based on their sexuality. She also explores controversial topics like abortion.
It would be difficult to sum up this entire body of work in a short blog post, but I do like a statement by T.J. McNamara about her latest exhibit, which is entitled Love is what you Want. He says: “her art provides profound insight into the world of women, not as a feminist polemicist but by laying her soul bare on behalf of all women.”
And Sue Hubbard also has a great summary: “Emin’s work grew from the fertile cultural soil of 70s feminism that produced novels such as Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time or Mary Kelly’s installations displaying soiled nappies. Other women responded to the work not because it was high art but because it reminded them of the emotional chaos of their own lives.”
Crochet in Tracey Emin’s Art
I always think that crochet is a great medium for artists to consider when they are working on tackling topics that relate to women. Crochet has historically been associated with women of all different classes. It was used by poor women in Ireland to help prevent starvation during the potato famine (by providing objects for sale), by very rich women who needed hobbies during eras when they weren’t allowed to work and by the average crafty woman today. So crochet can say a lot of different things about women’s lives depending on how it’s used. And of course I just love crochet.
Here are some ways that Tracey Emin has used crochet in her artwork:
Crochet Objects for Folkestone (2008)
Folkestone was a project designed to raise awareness about teen pregnancy using artwork placed throughout the area. Emin was one of the artists asked to participate. She placed crochet baby clothes throughout the town for people to come across, giving them pause.
I also love how Emin shares an item that she wanted to include but included in a different way:
“But one of the objects I didn’t find is a crocheted bootie that my Grandma made. She made me a whole set of baby clothes not long before she died. She said she had made them for me now because by the time I had a baby she would be making clothes for angels. I placed the bronze cast of my Nan’s little bootie in a beautiful little garden with a pond and fountain; it’s the sort of place where old people go, older people who understand about crochet, who understand about making something out of nothing, and older people who could hopefully enjoy a tiny little forlorn bootie left by the side of a pond.”
I haven’t been able to find a photo of it anywhere, but apparently Emin has a half-finished baby shawl in one of her art pieces. The piece is titled: The first time I was pregnant I started to crochet the baby a shawl (1998-2004).
Description of A Piece in Emin’s Latest Exhibit:
“One artwork is a piece of crochet done in string. The string comes from inside the ball and the unfinished intricate work lies alongside, still attached. Tucked into the ball is a crochet hook traditionally used in amateur abortions.”
Tracey Emin Around the Web
- Tracey Emin on Wikipedia
- Tracey Emin’s website
- Tracey Emin’s online shop
- Arte Seleccion bio and work overview
- Love is What You Want exhibit website, showing some of her pieces