Tracey Emin has requested that a piece of artwork she donated to the government’s collection be removed from 10 Downing Street amid the ongoing parties scandal.
Various allegations have been made over the past month or so in relation to social gatherings being held by members of the Conservative party at times when the UK was under COVID-enforced lockdown.
- READ MORE: The Tories’ funding cuts threaten to make the arts (even more of a) playground for the rich
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing pressure after it was reported that he attended a “bring your own booze” garden party at Number 10 on May 20, 2020. Johnson has since admitted that he was there, but maintains it was a “work event”.
Sue Gray, the Second Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office, is currently leading an inquiry to establish whether the gathering breached COVID measures that were in place at the time.
As many call for the PM to resign – including some Tory MPs – artist Tracey Emin has taken to social media to condemn the government’s behaviour.
“This is my neon that hangs at 10 Downing Street,” she wrote under an image of her ‘More Passion’ light piece yesterday (January 19). “It was a gift from myself to the Government Art collection [in 2011].”
She continued: “I am now in the process of requesting that my art work be removed from 10 Downing Street. I feel More Passion is the last thing this present government needs. This current situation is shameful.”
Speaking during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour today (January 20), Emin explained: “I don’t want the work back because I donated it. I would simply like at the moment for it to be taken down, because the neon is notoriously for a party atmosphere.
“You have them at funfairs, casinos, bars or whatever. I really do not feel that Number 10 needs any encouragement on this level.”
The Turner Prize-nominated artist donated the piece over a decade ago when Number 10 was occupied by David Cameron, who, as she put it, had a “very different attitude towards art and contemporary art”.
Emin went on the criticise the government’s treatment of the arts over the course of the past two years.
“The Government actually doesn’t think that art should be in schools, does not think that art should be on the school curriculum, does not value art, does not value culture,” she said. “By me saying this I am just proving how important art and culture is – so I have got my own agenda here as well.”
During an interview earlier this week, Boris Johnson claimed “nobody told me” that the Number 10 garden party in question was “against the rules”.
“I can’t imagine why it would have gone ahead, or it would have been allowed to go ahead if it was against the rules,” he said.