Archive for tracey emin

The art of Confession. Read all about it – Exclusive! Did you make the bed?

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ART QUOTES, HISTORY with tags , , , on September 28, 2012 by echostains

We live in the times of the Confessional.  Privacy is not exclusive.  Well it sort of IS actually…. You can read these ‘exclusive’ stories every day in the newspapers.  It’s amazing how quickly privacy flies out of the window when the price is right…

The act of confessing is supposed to be between God and the confessor (using the Priest as a mediator or a conduit).  It seems that the act of confessing all has now become an art form, Tracey Emin is a living ambassador of confessional art, (sometimes known as autobiographical).  In order for the confession to be of any interest to the average audience though, it has to have a shock factor, an air of secrecy and exclusivity, and that is where it falls down (when it loses its exclusivity, where it’s shared among the media and therefore becomes common knowledge.  That doesn’t stop people being interested in others dirty washing however!

Fly on the wall documentaries, and ‘reality’programmes like Big BrotherThe Osbournes   andI’m a Celebrity – get me out of here! now provide popular entertainment .  The confessional aspect of these shows requires starstruck voyeurs to really work. – and we have become a nation of voyeurs (or ‘observers’, as we like to call ourselves).  The Jeremy Kyle Show has even won an award for this abrasive style of interogation (though not much arm twisting is involved to get guests to ‘spill the beans’ or air their dirty washing)  A strange camera technique is used to throw the participant’s face into hideous relief showing up each blemish, wrinkle etc.  the victim is then shouted at , told to ‘grow a pair’ and sent off to a ‘good cop’ (Kyle is ‘Bad cop’) for ‘after care’

Perhaps these shows make us feel better about ourselves or maybe some of the issues they deal with (well, touch upon) actually do affect us, or we have experience of them?  There’s also the added bonus whilst watching these types of shows of the realisation that things could be a lot worse in our own world. I must add though that the reverse is true for me when I watch The Antiques Road Show and see all the personal stuff people have been left and are willing to part for a few quid.  Having never been left anything – and having no rich relatives so never likely to be left anything,  I do confess to a feeling of envy. ūüė¶

The act of confessing is said to  have a cathartic effect: though sometimes the opposite can occur. The opening up of old wounds, the telling of secrets: especially when these ‘secrets’ hurt or effect others lives.

Many agree that the original founder of Confessional art is the French  American artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois (b 1911 – 2010) . In this interview   (celebrating her 70th birthday and her Retrospective) she revealed  that  her sculptures are mostly self confessional, and that the materials used are personal and symbolic to her and represent parts of her personal life that she felt she needed to ‘explain’ or come to terms with.  There’s a great article about this here

Here’s some quotes by the great sculptress;-

I‚Äôm neither a preacher nor a teacher.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúIf the artwork is true, then it will communicate and have value to others.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúTrust yourself. In your art you must tell your own story and if you tell your own story, you will be interesting.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúMy art is a form of psychoanalysis. I was able to exorcise my demons through art.‚ÄĚ

Artist Tracey Emin’s  is  a story-teller.  Her art  is a dichotomy.  On the one hand, it is very self absorbed – all about herself and her experiences – yet it reaches out through its narrative and we become absorbed in it through the artist’s way of communication, which is very powerful.

Roberta Smith of The New Yorker says the following about Tracey’s work:

‚ÄúIf Tracey Emin could sing, she might be Judy Garland, a bundle of irresistible, pathetic, ferocious, self-indulgent, brilliant energy. Since she can’t, or doesn’t, she writes, incorporating autobiographical texts and statements into drawings, monoprints, watercolors, collages, quilts, neon sculptures, installations and videotapes. In her art she tells all, all the truths, both awful and wonderful, but mostly awful, about her life. Physical and psychic pain in the form of rejection, incest, rape, abortion and sex with strangers figure in this tale, as do love, passion and joy.‚ÄĚ

The art of the confessional is here to stay – both in the art world and the media.  People will always want to read all about it in Heat magazine or biographys.  Anyone can do it – just make sure you get your story straight……. and don’t tell everything….. leave that for your next book.

Confessional box image from here

Town crier image – here

Louise Bourgeois  images from here and here

Bourgeois quotes from here and here

Roberta Smith interview quote from here

Jeremy Kyle image here

Emin tent image from here Neon sign image here


Happy birthday Pablo Picasso

PS  There’s a brand new post over on my other blog BOOKSTAINS

Happy Birthday L S  Lowry! (1st November 1887)  I shall be writing a post about him

Art I LOVE ‚Äď Billy Childish

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, FAVORITE ART: Art I LOVE with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by echostains


Billy Childish


I first discovered Billy Childish a few years ago when I was researching an essay I was doing , entitled ‘Rage against the Machine’.¬† The essay was about artists who had raged against the ‘art machine’ and railed against the establishment.¬†¬†

Guardian announcing the screening tour for the film 

The artists included The KLF (Kopyright Liberation Front) anarchic situationist who burnt money (literally).   Quote by Couty;- 

”¬†think we made about ¬£6m. We paid nearly half that in tax¬†and spent the rest on production costs.When we stopped, the production costs stopped too, so over the next few months we amassed a surplus of cash still coming in from record sales; this amounted to about ¬£1.8m. After tax we were left with about ¬£1m. This was the money that later became the K Foundation fund for the ‘advancement of kreation.”¬†

Guerrilla Girls poster


 The Guerrrilla Girls, masked artists who make their protests known in galleries by putting up slogans (sometimes with statistics) whose aim is more recognition for women artists.  They still get up to all sorts of activities to make their point.  

¬†Banksy¬†the masked graffiti artist, who I’ve already wrote about here, has become very collectable now and can fill a gallery legally (as opposed to sneaking in and hanging a piece of his own art there surreptitiously)

Consumer Jesus by Banksy..what Christmas is all about?


and the Stuckists (co-founded by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish in 1999, though Childish left in 2001).  The Stuckists turn up at the annual Turner Prize to make their protests about the art school/machine process and elitism. 

A Stuckist protest


The term ‘Stuckist’ comes from a remark from the then girlfriend of Billy Childish Tracy Emin who accused Childish’s work of being ‘stuck, stuck, stuck’ – and the name stuck:)¬†

Childish oil


Childish left school at 16, an undiagnosed dyslexic.¬† He studied art at St Martins college of Arts, london in 1977 but walk ed out after half a term.¬† He went on the Dole and painted until 1979.¬† He reapplied¬†to St Martin’s in 1980.¬† He was there for 18 months but got expelled because he refused to paint in the school, preferring to work at home.¬† Plus according to him ‘they didn’t like his poems’….¬† Childish has always maintained that art school stifles creativity.¬† He did block printing with Tracey Emin in Maidstone.

One of many albums


His work is autobiographical and he says he is an anti-hero.  As an artist, he is prolific.  He has made over a hundred albums, many books of poetry, autobiographical, fiction.  He has produced countless paintings and woodblock prints Рyet terms himself as a Sunday painter. 

we saw this one at the exhibition


¬†His work has a charm all its own and is in the tradition of Van Gogh.¬† It’s the basic honesty and lack of pretense that I like the best as well as the painterly qualities.¬† He does it because he LOVES it.¬† He doesn’t strive – he just does.

..and this one


Billy Childish 'son of art'


When we were in London we were in time to see the last day of his exhibition at the ICA.¬† it was the first time we’d been to that place.¬† it is a massive place – very modern inside and nice spaces.¬† An ideal venue and setting for contemporary art.¬† The first thing I noticed about the paintings, is that they are done¬†on unprimed canvas!¬† He doesn’t waste any time in priming them.¬† You can actually smell these paintings, like they have only just been finished – there’s a smell of turps and oil that exudes from them. Here is a short film about Childish, it features his paintings, him actually painting and he talks about his work.¬† If you like this artist there are a lot of his films on YouTube¬†


KLF  info here 

Guerrrilla Girls info here 

Lots of Banksy images here website here

History of the Stuckists here 

Stuckists and the Turner Prize demos here, image from here, Childish oil from here with article

son of art image from here

Childish website with lots of his work here

The you tube video by h4huggy thanks:)

Altered art book page 11 continued: let your fingers do the walking

Posted in ART, MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by echostains


Continuing Page 11 in the Altered book, I tried to find artists that used childhood experiences are a source.¬† Tracey Emin (b. 1963)¬†springs to mind immediately.¬† A lot of her art is in the form of the confessional.¬† From family sayings (her beloved Grandmother in this case) ‘There’s a lot of¬†money in Old chairs’, where an upholstered chair, appliqued with her one of Granny’s favorite sayings bears testiment to the passing of time.

Read about the chair and other works here 

emins chair

emins chair

Emin’s past experiences provide her oeuvre and may be cathartic to the artist, drawing a line or shutting doors on stuff that has happened before:¬†memories and events¬†that she cannot change.¬† Everyone experiences this at some time in their lives.¬† Sometimes it is hard to just walk away without resolving situations.¬† Sometimes situations just can’t be resolved,and you just have to accept this to move on.¬† There is a saying by Persian poet Omar Khayyam that goes; –



The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on: nor all your piety not wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”


Polish ¬†artist Miroslaw Balka (b. 1958)¬†also refers to childhood experiences.¬† His sculptures and installations employ unusual media like soap and salt.¬† I have seen this sculpture, and found it very moving and humbling.¬† Perhaps it was the way the shoes were positioned¬†near the stained carpet that produced the poignant effect: a feeling¬† of being privileged to be looking at something intensely private: the artist’s personal experience.



A good article about Tracey Emin’s work here; –