Tracey Emin, Artist talk, Pt.1

Tracey Emin | Special birthday

Birthdays are strange. They either overwhelm and surprise you, or leave you disappointed. Someone's "Lucky birthday" which is sometimes called your Golden or Grand birthday. Is when you turn the age of your birth day (e.g. being born on the 23rd of the month and turning 23 years old). Last Friday, the 27th, was my 21st birthday. So not my "lucky birthday". On the Monday of my birthday week, two thoughts were stirring in my mind. My ticket for a talk by Tracey Emin, my favourite artist, happening that evening at the Hayward gallery, London. Along with the thought of my birthday party in Liverpool at the end of the week.

As my Monday wore on I shared text messages with friends about our plans for my birthday party, with outbursts of excitement for Tracey. I was planning on buying the catalogue for her new exhibition and getting her to sign it before the talk, as she was meant to be signing copies. However I had also planned to bring along a blank home-made 21st birthday card, in the hope she'd see the fun side of my request and sign and address it to me with that all important sentence…'Happy 21st birthday'.

Three o'clock, four o'clock, five o'clock... come on, half six! I want my card signed. Around 5.45pm a group of hardcore fans stand up from their seats and shuffle forward. Subtly carting bags full of books and posters they are acting casual, cool. But, looking very determined. Oh god, two of them have suitcases!? Ok I’m new at this, so I’ll take my cues from them.  But I still have most of my pint left. And they are starting to form queue, for an empty desk? Ok. I quickly gulped down my drink. Trying to look as relaxed as I could. And scurried across.

I queued patiently with the mega fans, chatting as sharing stories. This is lovely, I thought, its like a mini community. Every couple of minutes the nerves and excitement would be cranked up a notch, with someone else mentioning how much longer we had left to wait.

Eventually, from the corner of the room a slim body, with sun kissed brown hair confidently walked towards us. Tracey Emin. Followed loyally by a team of assistants. She sat down, made eye contact with a fan, broke into one of her famous crooked smiles and warmly laughed at a team members joke. She's lovely! No worries. She WILL sign my card I can tell. 

The queue moved surprisingly fast, before long I was next. Then, it was my turn. I stepped forward holding out my show catalogue and handed it over. She scribbled away on it. "Its my 21st birthday this week and... I've brought a birthday card. Would you sign my birthday card. Please. My name is David?" "Yesss. Happy 21st birthday David", she said smiling, holding out her hand to take my card. YES... She. Said. Yes. I walked away with my birthday card safely inside my exhibition catalogue. Thinking... so much for "lucky" birthdays.