Emin grew up in the Hotel International, a seafront hotel in Margate owned by her father. This work, composed of letters sewn onto a big blanket and handwritten texts, is a kind of curriculum vitae, detailing episodes in her childhood and youth.
Material: Appliqué blanket
Tracey Emin is renowned for her autobiographical appliquéd blankets. With their bold words and phrases they tell a story of a chapter in her life. At first glance they appear innocent and happy, naive even. On closer inspection they often reveal a dark and sometimes disturbing life. I find this juxtaposition humorous, but I do find much of what she writes about sad and I think it is curious that she has chosen this way to use her work as a catharsis, maybe a therapy. I can relate to this emotion, even though I have not experienced anything like her tortured times I do have a need to get my thoughts and experiences "out there" and have also found, recently that my textile work is a good outlet for this.
I really enjoy the homespun visual imagery of her appliqué. I like the way she uses colour linking the pink from the heavy impact piece at the bottom to the smaller squares at the top, this makes your eye travel down through the picture which would otherwise be extremely chaotic to "read". The small bits and pieces of words and smaller squares are again balanced by the heavy pink block at the base of the blanket.
The use of many different styles of fabrics is also interesting, you might not necessarily expect these colours and variants of floral, stripes and plain colours to marry well but overall they do and I think the fact that there is an overall muted colour tone so that joins everything up.
The use of handwritten notes and letters on paper is an interesting use of other materials and I like the combination of mixed media. I also really enjoy the way that the words are spelled out and " written " in felt and backed onto different fabrics. Some letters are the wrong way round, in other works of this type she often misspells words too. This adds to the personal, unique touch of the piece.
The blanket is well balanced visually and draws you in to read the small print whilst at the same time makes you stand back to take in the full impact. A criticism would be that it is very hard to read the words HOTEL INTERNATIONAL at the bottom of the work as the stripy black and White fabric gets lost in the blue background. I think if you are going to the bother of writing words you should be able to read the text!!
I don't know, but it makes me wonder if any of the floral or non felt fabrics were reminiscent of the style of fabrics that would have been in the hotel or reminds her of her childhood. The brown square that reads "Pam Cashin loved Envar Emin so much" is on a brown floral pattern that is very evocative of the 1970's! The blanket is 260x240 and so is very large and would be very striking in real life.
I had not considered the unconscious connection before but I have made my son a crochet blanket backed in a tweed. Each time we go on holiday I have sewn a machine embroidered tag on the back of the date and the destination which hopefully he will keep forever. Emin works in the reverse by putting down her past events in the writing on her blankets.
I have collected all of my favourite items of my daughters clothes since she was born and have always planned to make a patchwork blanket for her out of the clothes. Since looking at Tracey Emins work I am now inspired to add words and phrases in a similar style relating to my daughters first two years. I am going to use words she has learned in the first two years and the special names she has for her brothers and things like milk ( for which she says loke!)
I am very excited about going to the Hayward gallery to see Tracey Emins latest exhibition which starts later this week.