11 things you didn't know about British artist Tracey Emin

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She's friends with Biggins and recorded a pop song. The YBA still has the power to shock.

Tracey Emin on turning 50

© Hello!

When the British artist Tracey Emin celebrated her 50th birthday this month (many happy returns, Trace!) it got us thinking about the former enfant terrible of the art scene.

While she's never been in danger of underexposure (Is there anyone who hasn't heard of her famous unmade bed or the 'Everyone I've Ever Slept With' tent?) it turns out there's still a lot of Tracey trivia to be discovered. For example, did you know...

1. She's bezzie mates with Christopher Biggins
Emin and panto star Biggins became pals after working on a fundraising project called Intercourse at the ICA in 2012. "She's a lovely girl," said Biggles at the time.

2. She's a pop star
In 1998 Emin duetted with pop singer Boy George on a song called Burning Up. It's been described as "very sexy and politically incorrect", and you can listen to it here. We kind of really love it.

3. She's a bit morbid
Her uncle was decapitated in a car accident before Tracey was born, and she included the cigarette packet he was holding at the time in her first solo show at the White Cube gallery in 2003.

4. She's rubbish at spelling
Despite frequently incorporating words and phrases into her artwork, Emin often makes mistakes. In 2002 she told an interviewer: "It's not cute affectation. If I could spell, then I would spell correctly, but I never bothered to learn. So, rather than be inhibited and say I can't write because I can't spell, I just write and get on with it."

5. She doesn't like you using the disabled loo
According to gossip site Popbitch, Tracey was spotted at the 2006 Serpentine Ball kicking in the door of the disabled toilet, screaming "death be on you" to the occupant. When the (non-disabled) woman inside emerged, Emin "carried on cursing and manhandling her" until she ran, scared, into the crowd.

6. She's inspired by teenage pregnancy
September 2007, Tracey made a sculpture for the Folkestone Triennial. She said her work (tiny bronze cast items of baby clothes that she'd found in the street) had been inspired by the "high percentage" of teenage pregnancies in the Kent town.

7. She set up a library in Uganda
Based just outside of the capital of Kampala, the Tracey Emin Library serves 800 students aged 12 to 18 and also offers adult literacy and computer skills.

8. She's defending Charles Saatchi in the Sagella saga
In the past, Charles Saatchi has been one of Emin's more generous patrons - snapping up her famous dirty bed for £150,000. So it's perhaps unsurprising that she was fighting his corner at a GQ dinner last month. Emin told guests: "All those people who are being judgmental about that situation have obviously never been in love..." and went on to suggest people should leave the pair alone.

9. She once made a CD which was sold by Habitat
In 2005 Emin compiled a CD of her favourite music called "Music To Cry To", which was released and sold by the UK household furnishings retailer Habitat.

10. She votes Tory
In an interview with the New Statesman in 2011, she revealed that she voted for the Conservatives at the last General Election and claimed that the Tories were "the only hope for the arts".

11. She's got a way with words
Talking about the differences between male and female artists she says: "It's like a light bulb, women burn and burn and burn, with men it's just one big flash. At about 40, a male artist has this massive ejaculation and then the work - though not the prices - goes down. It goes back to the sex thing: women keep coming and coming, men just do it once. It's a metaphor for life."



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