In interview: Ruth Skilbeck & Tracey Emin at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 2004
Photograph © Copyright Ruth Skilbeck
Professor Tracey Emin and Ruth Skilbeck pondering the art of travelling light in 2004.
In the photo I am interviewing Tracey Emin, who at the time was attracting media epithets such as 'bad-girl' of British Art, and 'Britain's biggest art celebrity'.
Tracey came to Sydney in 2004 for the opening of her exhibition, Fear, War and the Scream at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery.
Tracey's stories of her adolescent experiences of rape and racial abuse, transformed into the material form of her art catapulted her into the upper echelons of the art world when she was picked up out of her struggling artist's life in an East End council flat by Charles Saatchi. Achieving cultural and political prominence in the 80s, Saatchi, is the advertising agency director who advised the Thatcher government, then turned to contemporary art. In the mid-90s Tracey Emin became one of Saatchi's curated group of Young British Artists, that also included Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers. No longer so 'young', their work continues to be represented by Jay Jopling in London's White Cube gallery.
Sitting in the sun on the terrace of the gallery, we were talking literally and metaphorically about 'the Art of Travelling Light'. A stream of consciousness that began when I asked her about how she flies. We devised a story concept of Tracey Emin's Art of Travelling Light -with tips on how to fly aesthetically with minimal baggage- or in Tracey's case designer luggage. Above the detritus of relationship breakdowns, addictions, life's crises. With friends and other animals (Tracey had a much loved cat); through the transformed subjectivity of art.
An alchemy that seems even more apt now.
© Copyright Ruth Skilbeck 2011
My story 'Tracey Emin Down Under' is published in POL Oxygen-Design, Art, Architecture, Issue 2, 2003.