Tracey Emin: When I turned 50 it was a big wake-up call. I’m single, kind of mad and independent

When you’re doing a good painting and it works, it’s much better than sex 

February 27, 2015 | By:

Tomorrow night, British artist Tracey Emin will tell chat show host Jonathan Ross how turning 50 made her more focused, ambitious and graceful, and the truth about that unmade bed



Tracey Emin, 51, says she wants to carry on working until she’s 90. Photo from Corbis

Tracey Emin will open up about her half century, being ambitious, and her infamous unmade bed on Saturday night’s Jonathan Ross Show.

“When I turned 50 it was a really big wake-up call. I’m single, I’m kind of mad, I’m very independent, I travel a lot around the world. I suddenly realised that I was actually 50 and parts of my lifestyle weren’t that graceful really and I had to pull my socks up and actually be more focused.”

Now 51, she says that celebrating her half-century made her assess her life and realise that she is ambitious.

“Especially about my art and not take it for granted and I just changed my attitude. And this is a strange thing, I’ve never had ambition in my life ever, and people don’t really believe that.

“I’ve always just done what I do and I decided that I had to be more ambitious and take my work more seriously which I did and it’s given me great, great satisfaction and a lot of happiness…

“I’m going into the third part of my life now and I want to continue working until I’m 90 but understanding who I am now and what I’m working with, me being a muse is really important.”


Everyone I Have Ever Slept With

Emin will also talk to Ross about the current controversy surrounding her infamous artworks My Bed and Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995.

Art historian professor Martin Kemp recently questioned whether anyone had ever slept in My Bed, which sold for £2.2 million at Christie’s last year.

“Now, obviously he’s never been anywhere near my bed! And everything is genuine. Not the plinth but the mattress is genuine, the sheets… At the time it was my real bed so I could get another mattress but I couldn’t get another bed piece.”

Being recognised in public

Emin says she loves it when she’s recognised in public: “I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing now for 30 years and to make two seminal pieces of art that go down in history, I’m not going to complain about it and especially being a woman… How many people are recognised in the street for being an artist?

“I’ve never done anything else. To wake up and think, ‘I love what I do’, and be so happy with what I’m doing, it’s like the best feeling in the whole world definitely. I always say when you’re doing a good painting and it works, it’s much better than sex.”

Other guests on Saturday’s show alongside Emin include Sigourney Weaver and Martin Clunes, whose new drama Arthur and George starts on Monday.

The Jonathan Ross Show is on Saturday at 9.40pm on ITV