Tracey Emin’s art is one of disclosure, using events from her personal life as inspiration for her work. ‘Baby Things’, Emin’s perfect bronze simulacra of baby clothes, can be found tucked underneath benches, hanging from railings and lying by the kerb. Exuding an aura of the forlorn and dejected, they are poignant reminders of Folkestone’s high teenage pregnancy rate, which is similar to that of Margate, Emin’s home town.
Tracey Emin is renowned for the art of intimacy, often displaying details of close personal relationships and significant events in her life, in a way that can convey both fearlessness and fragility. Folkestone is a place with which she felt a great affinity, and Emin’s contribution to the Triennial in 2008 had a poignancy that reflects a fine tuned sensitivity to the realities of growing up in a Kent coastal town. Several items of baby clothing, cast in bronze and painted to resemble exactly their original form, dangle limply from railings and benches, or lie as if lost on the roadsides and pavements of the town.
Emin’s own teenage sexual experiences in Margate have formed the foundation for several of her works. Even those that don’t refer directly to her teenage years are often characterized by a mix of defiance and vulnerability that suggest a strong emotional connection back to her adolescence.