No 10 says it will speak to Tracey Emin over artwork removal demand

Downing Street has said it will speak to Tracey Emin following her demand to take down one of her artworks in Number 10.

More Passion, a neon piece by the Turner Prize-nominated artist, was installed in 2011 after being donated to the Government Art Collection when David Cameron was prime minister.

However, Emin has requested the piece be removed in protest at what she has described as “shameful” reports of parties at the residence during lockdown.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “My understanding is that the work was gifted to the Government Art Collection with an agreement to initially display it in No 10.

“We will obviously now discuss the location of the work with the artist and I believe it will remain part of the Government Art Collection that displays works in a number of locations.”

The PA news agency understands the Government Art Collection will discuss the location of the work with Emin but that it will remain part of the collection.

The Government Art Collection displays works in 365 locations globally such as embassies and other major government buildings.

It comes after Emin claimed the Government needed more “compassion” rather than the “party atmosphere” created by her neon artwork hanging in Downing Street.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Thursday she objected to the fluorescent lighting, which is often associated with a festive feel, being hung where parties were reported to have taken place.

London city stock
(John Stillwell/PA)

She told host Emma Barnett: “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.”

Emin said she knew Prime Minister Boris Johnson enjoyed the artwork being in Number 10 because he had personally told her.

However, she added: “I want it taken down and this Government, I will tell you what they need, they need compassion.

“That’s what they need, not passion.

“They don’t need more party atmosphere.

“Most of us are obeying the rules in every single way because this pandemic has affected everybody so terrible, whether it is financially, whether it was health-wise, people dying or whatever. And this Government doesn’t seem to care about that…”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which administers the collection, said: “When an artwork comes into the Government Art Collection, the Collection can display the work at any of its 365 locations.

“On occasions the Collection may consult with an artist when a work is going to a specific location.”

Emin caused controversy in the art world when she declared herself a Conservative supporter but later criticised Mr Cameron over his decision to hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

Known for her headline-grabbing 90s works Everyone I Have Ever Slept With and My Bed, she revealed in 2020 she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Emin underwent major surgery and is now cancer free.