Artist tracing her family tree on BBC series discovers Gypsy roots
Artist Tracey Emin is appearing on BBC1’s Who Do You Think You Are? a series that explores the ancestral background of celebrities. She was delighted to discover that some of her ancestors were gypsies. Related to the Hodgkins clan in Warwickshire and London’s East End. Emin’s great grandfather Henry Hodgkins, was at reform school from 13 to 16 for stealing and his father, Joseph, was also incarcerated for stealing fertiliser. Some of her other forebears were broomstick craftsmen.“If I’d discovered I was from a simple, ordinary family from suburbia I’d slit my wrists,”Emin stated. She added, “I’m gypsy, I’m beautiful, proper gypsy. They were tent-dwelling, travelling, broom-making, creative people. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. “Lots of people want to be related to King Arthur. I’m really happy to be related to the Hodgkins gypsy clan.”
Emin is an elected RA who was born 3 July 1963 in Croydon, Surrey. She is an English artist and part of the group known as Britartists or YBAs (Young British Artists). In 1997, her work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, a tent appliquéd with names, was shown at Charles Saatchi’s Sensation exhibition held at the Royal Academy in London. The same year, she gained considerable media exposure when she appeared drunk and swearing on a live Channel 4 TV discussion. In 1999, she was a Turner Prize nominee and exhibited My Bed — an installation, consisting of her own unmade dirty bed with used condoms and blood-stained underwear. There has been an ongoing dispute with former boyfriend, artist Billy Childish, particularly over the Stuckism movement, founded in 1999 and named after an insult by her. In 2004, her tent artwork was destroyed in the Momart warehouse fire. In March 2007, Emin was chosen to join the Royal Academy of Arts in London as a Royal Academician. She represented Britain at the 2007 Venice Biennale. Her first major retrospective 20 Years was held in Edinburgh 2008, and toured Europe until 2009. Tracey opened the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate with Jools Holland in April 2011. She has been a major supporter of the project from its inception and it has been suggested she will exhibit there in the future. In May Emin’s largest major solo exhibition in a public space was held at Hayward Gallery, London titled Love Is What You Want. Emin’s art takes many different forms of expression including needlework and sculpture, drawing, video and installation, photography and painting. She has never won the Turner Prize. Tracey’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is broadcast on BBC1, October 12th.