A new public sculpture by Tracey Emin unveiled in London

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A new public sculpture by Tracey Emin unveiled in London
Tracey Emin, A Moment Without You, Three Mills, The Line. Photo: Angus Mill.

LONDON.- Established in 2015, The Line is London’s first dedicated public art walk; an outstanding, free outdoor art gallery, following the waterways and line of the Greenwich Meridian along a route which passes through 3 of the most diverse boroughs in the UK: Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich.

The Line announced the unveiling on 21st July of A Moment Without You by the acclaimed British artist, Tracey Emin. The only public sculpture by Emin currently in London, the work features 5 bronze birds perched above head height – resting in sight of historic Three Mills, home to the House Mill and the world’s largest surviving tidal mill. Although rendered in bronze, the birds retain the delicate fragility of their living counterparts, as well as the intimacy of the sculptor’s physical touch in the modelling of each hand-sized form.

Few public sculptures could look more completely at home in the natural waterside location of Three Mills, complete with resident cormorants who are regularly perched on the oast house roofs of the Clock Mill. Whilst birds have been a source of fascination and inspiration for Emin for more than two decades, they are also a very fitting metaphor for the fragility and transience of life now and the recent experience of so many during Covid – as well as the artist’s own personal battle with ill health in the past year. Emin commented; ‘the birds are small, tiny, delicate, fragile, like we are as human beings,”

For Emin, theses diminutive life-sized forms serve as symbols of hope, faith and spirituality; ‘I’ve always had the idea that birds are angels of this earth and that they represent freedom’. Historically, public monuments have often been created as symbols of masculinity and power but Emin sought to capture an altogether lighter and less oppressive force of life in A Moment Without You; ‘I wanted something that had a magic and an alchemy, something which would appear and disappear and not dominate.’

Widely regarded as one of the world’s most significant contemporary artists and with an illustrious international exhibition history spanning more than three decades, few artists have the raw psychological power of Emin. Conveyed with brutal honesty, her medium is the trauma of her lived experience and with its directness, Emin’s work has captured the emotional zeitgeist of the 21st century more than any other artist.

Megan Piper, Director of The Line said: “We are thrilled to present A Moment Without You on The Line. This is a rare opportunity for Londoners to experience Emin’s work in the public realm. Visitors will encounter A Moment Without You on a small island, between the Lea and Channelsea Rivers, and it feels particularly poetic with the romantic backdrop of historic Three Mills. The Line has offered sanctuary across this challenging year and I hope that this work will provide a moment of contemplation and reflection.”

This installation has been generously funded by the London Legacy Development Corporation’s Neighbourhood Priorities Fund. With thanks to the landowner, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, for their support. Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said: “We’re always looking for ways to attract visitors to the wonders of the 26 mile long Lee Valley Regional Park. We’re bowled over with this superb addition to Three Mills, which we’re sure will draw visitors from far and wide.”

Tracey Emin (b.1963, London) studied at Maidstone College of Art (1984) and the Royal College of Art, London (1989). She represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was elected a Royal Academician in the same year. In 2011, Emin became the Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and in 2013 Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.

Emin’s work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Most recently, she exhibited alongside Edvard Munch at the Royal Academy in Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul (2020-21), which followed her solo shows Detail of Love, Xavier Hufkens (2020), A Fortnight of Tears, White Cube (2019) and The Fear of Loving, Museìe d’Orsay (2019). Emin lives and works in London, France and Margate.

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